Skip to main content

Full text of "A commentary on the Gospels of Matthew and Mark"

See other formats


KQk55h 
fsssS? 



,: '"■•':'■"■■' : - - '-■"-■' 

.■•■Vv' '.''.'•.. ; 

nhHHI 8s»3 

.'■■.■■■-•'■'■■■■ 

:-■:.'•'-•.•■.■''■■■ 

"■■■•■•... ■■'"''•• : '•■ 

• •■'■• ! .■'■■..'■■■'■•'■• ',. 

• ■'■:;.:..'■"■■■:■.■;'. 



<M& 



■hUDB 

Jllil 



i 



jtanfi 



H££si 



:,■-,;':-■'•:-'■.'..•-■' 

' ; ' bSSSH 9 BBS '■:■ 

^•'-■'' '■■' ■:'-.'■ '•■■•■'■ 

.-■■'■■'.' 'j-'-.:-. ■'■,"■: 



sksebbbBsHB 

KEBSSs .:.:■.■ Ba ..,■ ■ ■ 

ill -In 



P»B 



;'"--■■'■■■■' 

ililsl 
HI 



*-■ V'" ' 




< ( Lc cc^f-ri^ 






'9'/,j/ >/,■////<//////">/,■//,/,//,■////,///,■///,',//.>/ ('/'/.if//"/ I >///// r// 



COMMENTARY 



ON THE 

GOSPELS OF MATTHEW AM) MARK, 

CRITICAL, DOCTRINAL, ANT) HOMILETIOAL, 

EMBODYING FOR POPULAR USE AND EDIFICATION 

THE RESULTS OF GERMAN AND ENGLISH EXEGETICAL LITERATURE, AND DESIGNED TO MEET 
THE DIFFICULTIES OF MODERN SKEPTICISM. 

WITH 

A GENERAL INTRODUCTION, 

TREATING OF THE 

GENUINENESS, AUTHENTICITY, HISTORIC VERITY, AND INSPIRATION OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS, 
AND OF THE HARMONY AND CHRONOLOGY OF THE GOSPEL HISTORY. 



BY WILLIAM NAST, D. D. 



i 



CINCINNATI: 
PUBLISHED BY POE & HITCHCOCK, 

CORNER OF MAIN AND EIGHTH STREETS. 



R. P. THOMPSON, PRINTER. 
1864. 



5* 



^rf 



Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864, 

BY POE & HITCHCOCK, 

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. 



1^2^3 



TO THE 





lm 9 1 



UNDER WHOSE MINISTRY THE AUTHOR WAS BROUGHT INTO 
THE LIBERTY OP THE GOSPEL, 



lo 



WHO PROPOSED HIM TO THE OHIO ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE METHODIST 

EPISCOPAL CHURCH AS ITS FIRST MISSIONARY AMONG THE 

GERMAN POPULATION OF THE UNITED STATES, 



!18 i 



E&» 



IS DEDICATED AS A. TOKEN OF GRATEFUL AFFECTION AND ESTEEM. 



PREFACE. 



When the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in 1852, expressed 
a desire that I should prepare a Commentary on the New Testament in the German lan- 
guage, I hesitated for several years to undertake so responsible a work. An evangelical 
Commentary of an unsectarian character — embodying in a popular form the results of those 
exegetical works which were written exclusively for the theological scholar, and designed 
to meet the attacks of the destructive criticism of the rationalistic schools — I knew, indeed, 
to be a generally and deeply felt want of German Protestants. But the attempt to supply 
what is needed was a task from which I shrank for six years, partly because of the press- 
ure of other duties, partly in the hope that an abler hand would be induced to undertake 
it. This hope not being realized, and the demand for such a work becoming more and 
more urgent from different quarters, I was at last induced to make the attempt, and about 
^/fwo years ago I finished the first volume, comprising a General Introduction to the study 
of the New Testament and an Exposition of the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. The 
work met with much favor from the religious press of Germany as well as of this country, 
and several eminent American divines, who examined it, advised its publication in the 
English language. 

To this encouraging call I have yielded, from the following considerations: First, I 
have been deeply impressed that a popular Commentary should enter thoroughly into the 
solution of important critical difficulties, and bring out of the text the doctrines taught 
by Christ and his apostles as fully as is done in the works of systematic divinity. Very 
much of theology that ought to be known, and is actually craved both by ministers who 
have not had the advantage of a classical and theological training, and by laymen in gen- 
eral, is never read by them, because the information sought is scattered over works not 
within their reach, or written exclusively for the classical scholar. Moreover, it is time 
that we habituate ourselves, more generally, to learn theology in the order in which it has 
pleased God to teach it in his written Word, and to examine each doctrine in the light 
of the context in which it stands in the Inspired Volume. But this is not done when we 
base our system of belief primarily and chiefly upon the Church creed, and turn to the 
Scriptures only in quest of proof texts. A second consideration is the growing need of 
a more intimate acquaintance with the theological works of Germany. English and Ger- 
man theology have their peculiar merits and defects. Each can improve and enrich the 
other. It is true that the national character of the English and German people and 
their Church-developments are so different that mere translations of the theological works 
of the one can never satisfy the wants of the other. But for this very reason there is 
the more need of efforts to assimilate the theological thought of the prominent standard- 
bearers of Evangelical Protestantism. By these means only can be produced that life- 

5 



6 PREFACE. 






communion which will work out a theology leading to greater unity of faith among the 
different evangelical denominations. Moreover, the conflict with infidelity and skepticism 
is far from being ended. The rejecters of Divine Revelation have changed their method 
of attack. To meet them on their new ground we must not disdain the weapons afforded 
by the rich arsenal of the evangelical theology of Germany, which has grappled with this 
new phase of unbelief, and achieved the most decisive victory. To prepare, therefore, a 
Commentary especially designed to meet the attacks of rationalistic criticism — giving on 
the one hand the results of the exegetical researches and philosophic discipline of the 
Germans, and on the other, the practical character and logical clearness which distinguish 
the Christian mind of England and America — appeared to me to be a work needed just 
now by the English as well as by the German Churches of this country. 

So much for the reasons which induced me to add another Commentary to those 
already in existence. In the attempt to reproduce the German original in English, I 
encountered far greater difficulties than I had anticipated; and hence the delay of the 
English edition, which was to leave the press early last Summer. The translation, which, 
from lack of time and a fear of not being equal to the task, I had engaged to be made, 
failed to do justice to the German original to such an extent that I felt myself compelled 
to think the whole work over in English, and endeavor to preserve, as far as possible, the 
strength and beauty of those passages that I quoted from Stier and Lange, whose style 
I confess myself to have found often too difficult to reproduce in good English.* I dis- 
covered also that the comments of Trench on the Parables and Miracles, of which I gave 
a digest in German, would lose too much by re-translation, and I therefore judged it bet- 
ter to quote them directly and more fully. Moreover, points that needed much consider- 
ation in German, I became convinced would be of less interest to the English reader; and 
so different is the mode of thought in the two nationalities and the genius of their respect- 
ive languages that one and the same argument, to make the proper impression, requires 
often to be stated in a different form or from a different stand-point. In addition to this, 
the work in English has the advantage of such emendations as a revision generally calls 
forth, and of additions arising from the consultation of works which I had not at hand, 
when writing the German original.f The greatest modification in the English edition 
will be found in the General Introduction. In German it is an Introduction to the whole 
New Testament. But as it is of a prominently apologetical character, I judged it better 
in the English edition to give only an Introduction to the Gospel records, these being the 
foundation upon which our faith rests, and against which the attacks of modern criticism 
are chiefly directed. 

Some remarks may be expected on the manner in which the author has drawn upon 
the labors of others. To write in our day a Commentary on the Holy Scriptures is 
a widely different task from that of the older commentators. When Biblical literature 
was yet in its infancy, a Commentary was, to a great extent, the original work of one 

* The quotations that aro mado from Stier's Words of the Lord Jesus, after the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew, 
the reader will find more direct and more full than those in the forepart of the work. This is owing to my not 
having heen in possession, before that time, of Rev. William B. Pope's translation of that work, published at 
Edinburgh. 

f It gives me pleasure here to acknowledge my great indebtedness to the Rev. Dr. G. E. Day, of the Lane The- 
ological Seminary, for his kind loan, both from the Seminary Library and from his own private collection, of im- 
portant English and German works, without the help of which I should have been greatly embarrassed. 



PREFACE. 



man, but this is in our day no more the case. In the last three centuries the critical 
study of the Holy Scriptures has been cultivated by scholars of every land and every 
denomination, each succeeding writer using, with more or less additions, corrections, and 
modifications, the labors of his predecessors, so that exegetical research has not only 
reached a high degree of perfection, but its results — being made up by so many contri- 
butions as to lose to a great extent their originality — have become the common property 
of the Church. This last remark, however, does not apply to the exegetical labors of the 
present school of evangelical divines of Germany which originated with Dr. Olshausen, 
and whose brightest star appears to us to be the recently-departed Dr. Rudolph Stier, 
a man of unsurpassed spirituality, raised up by Divine Providence to expound the 
Scriptures for the unlearned as well as the learned. His immortal work, " The "Words 
of the Lord Jesus," has, indeed, been translated in England, and deserves to be studied 
by every theological student who has the means to procure it; but forming eight volumes 
large octavo, and containing much that moves in modes of thought exclusively German, 
and that will, therefore, neither interest nor profit the American mind, this precious work 
will find its way to the study of but few American pastors. And yet it contains doc- 
trinal truths, practical suggestions, and spiritual unfoldings of incalculable value, which, 
instead of being appreciated only by a few theological scholars, ought to be made the 
common property of the Church. The deep conviction of this need was, indeed, my first 
and strongest inducement to undertake this work. But to return to the question of the 
comparative amount of originality in our modern English Commentaries, we beg leave to 
say that even Alford, the professed object of whose Commentary on the Greek New Testa- 
ment is to enrich exegetical literature with new researches and results, is for the greatest 
portion of his notes indebted to German works, even where he does not quote them ; and a 
comparison of the modern popular Commentaries, so far at least as the Gospels are con- 
cerned — with perhaps only one exception, that of Dr. Joseph Addison Alexander — will 
show that their authors have considered it their privilege to abridge, amplify, or modify 
the researches of their predecessors or cotemporaries. Of the same privilege I have 
availed myself, though to a larger extent and in a somewhat different mode. Where I 
found an author, as for instance Trench on the Parables and Miracles, to have said the 
very best that in my opinion could be said, I have taken the liberty, if no copy-right was 
infringed thereby, to appropriate his whole comment, giving him proper credit. Never- 
theless, I do not think the work deserves on that account to be called a compilation. 
My aim, at least, has been not simply to select by critical examination, and for a distinct 
scope, what appeared to me the best in the exegetical works within my reach, but to 
mold, with a unity of design, the variegated materials into an organic whole. Nor have 
I confined myself in the most difficult passages to what others have said, but ventured 
to give my own opinions and to strike out a new path ; as, for instance, in the exposition 
of the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew. It should also be borne in mind that the 
amount of quotations is in proportion to the specific aim of this Commentary to com- 
bine — to a greater extent than has been attempted before — the edifying element with the 
discussion of critical, apologetical, and theological questions, and to make these questions 
intelligible and interesting to the general reader. Had I designed the work only, either 
for the theological student or for the layman, it would have been reduced to half its size. 
The largest quotations, taken from other authors, I have made in the Introduction. My 



8 PREFACE. 



object was to preserve, for the instruction and edification of the Church, those portions 
of the different works on the genuineness, authenticity, and historic verity of the Gospel 
records, which after accurate comparison I found to contain the very best that has been 
written on one or the other point — and to bring the different testimonies within one focus 
and into a new relation to each other. Such a preservation and combination of argu- 
ments — incapable of material improvement — I judge to be far preferable to any attempt 
to bring out the old arguments in a new dress merely for the sake of imparting to them 
the appearance of originality. The authors quoted, I am confident, will not complain, 
because what is quoted from them is only a very small portion of the subject they treat 
of, and Avill induce those readers that have the leisure to pursue their studies further, to 
procure those works as far as their means may permit. Besides, the large quotations in 
the Introduction — with the exception of some extracts from Dr. Schaff's works and from 
Norton's "Credibility of the Gospels" — are taken from foreign authors, whose works 
have for the most part not even been republished in this country. 

Though the materials of the Introduction have been borrowed to a large extent, I 
claim to have used them in such a manner as to build up a new and entirely-original 
argument, and one which I think is imperatively demanded by the change of base on the 
part of the rejecters of Divine revelation. With regard to the prominently-apologetical 
character of the Introduction, I beg leave to make a few remarks. Minute and extended 
as it is, some readers may be disappointed in not finding some of the strongest evidences 
of the Divine character of the Christian religion. But it must be borne in mind that the 
Introduction treats only of the documents of revelation, not of revelation itself, and that, 
for this reason, only so much of the General Evidences of Christianity, as stands in a close 
connection with the documents themselves, could consistently find a place here. Know- 
ing from my own inward experience that the Sacred Scriptures prove their Divine char- 
acter to every devout and earnest seeker of truth, and that a living faith in Jesus Christ 
and his Holy Word is not the work of a logical demonstration to the understanding, but 
that of an attestation of the Holy Ghost to the conscience and heart, it was for some 
time a matter of grave and anxious doubt, whether it would be proper and profitable in 
a work, written for the laity as much as for the ministry, to state in full the various and 
subtile objections which modern criticism has raised; but on mature reflection I became 
satisfied that the spirit of the age and the scope of the Commentary required a thoroughly 
apologetical introduction to the Gospel records- We live in a period when men of inquir- 
ing minds are compelled to follow one of three courses — either the rash and skeptical one 
of renouncing every thing which is not perfectly understood, or the equally easy one of 
yielding themselves up to blind credence, or, undaunted by the undeniable difficulties 
which revelation presents, not to rest short of a satisfactory solution. It is not sufficient 
in our day to state, in general, something like this : " Copies of the Gospels and Epistles 
were preserved in the Christian Churches. When the author produced his book it was 
immediately transcribed, and copies were put in circulation among purchasers; others 
were deposited in the archives of the various Churches. The multiplied copies were 
checks upon each other's correctness. Of the Gospels and Epistles numerous copies were 
circulated in Europe, Asia, and Africa within a century after their publication. It was, 
therefore, impossible that any counterfeit, or any great alteration should come into exist- 
ence. The very perfect agreement — with the exception of slight mistakes in copying— 



PREFACE. 9 



of all manuscript copies throughout the world, places beyond all doubt the genuineness 
of all the four Gospels." This is, indeed, a very complete and reliable summary of the 
argument. Nevertheless, almost every item of it has been impugned by infidel writers, 
and their objections are widely disseminated among the masses. Ought not, therefore, 
the refutation of these objections to be made generally accessible, instead of being locked 
up in learned works on the " Canon," which no layman and but few ministers possess ? 
Would not the information they contain be eagerly and generally read, if embodied in a 
popular Commentary? And would not the simple Christian thus be enabled to answer 
satisfactorily the cavils of skeptics by which he is often embarrassed? 

Having satisfied my mind on this point, I entered upon the argument with the con- 
viction that in order to make it answer the wants of our day it must be strictly historical, 
free from all dogmatical premises, compelling the opponent, by facts which he admits, to 
confess the unreasonableness of his doubts ; in short, changing the defense of the record 
of revelation into an attack upon its rejecters by requiring the skeptic to account for the 
historical facts of Divine revelation, and especially for the personality of Jesus Christ — a 
problem which no human ingenuity or learning is able to solve on any known natural 
principle. (See General Introduction, §§ 28, 29.) On this point Dr. Ullmann, in the 
introductory chapter to his celebrated work, " The Sinlessness of Jesus — an Evidence for 
Christianity," observes: "In modern times it has become more and more obvious how 
incalculably important for the proof of historical Christianity is a clear and positive 
knowledge of the character of its Founder. For the life and character of Jesus is the 
central point of the whole Christian system. From this all rays of light and all opera- 
tions of moral power proceed ; and to it all must be traced back, so long as Christianity 
shall have, on the one hand, a sure historical basis, and on the other, an inward moral ex- 
cellence The position that we occupy, in an age in which doubt and disbelief so 

greatly prevail, is such that in the vindication of Christianity we must go far beneath the 
surface, and lay the foundation in what appears self-evident and is in need of no external 
proof. This deepest foundation we find only in the person of the Founder of Christian- 
ity." Thus, in apologetics as well as in systematic theology and Christian experience, 
Christ is all and in all. While the Gospels, if examined by the acknowledged laws of 
historical criticism, are proved to be trustworthy historical records, the Christ described 
by the Evangelists could not possibly have been conceived by them, if they had not seen 
and heard what they record of him ; and if so, his personality is historically proved, as 
no other is, and it necessarily involves the fundamental fact of the Christian religion, 
that He was God manifest in the flesh. Being such, his testimony of the Old Testament 
and his commission to the apostles impress a Divine stamp upon the facts of revelation, 
recorded both in the Old and in the New Testament. 

With regard to the plan of the Commentary, we beg leave to point out its peculiarities : 
1. As the present division into chapters is unauthorized and arbitrary, the text has 
been arranged in sections, each of which forms a coherent whole by itself, be it a narra- 
tive or a discourse. Where a discourse is too extended to form conveniently one unin- 
terrupted section, the section has its logical subdivisions. Likewise, where different short 
narratives — none of them large enough to form a section by itself — succeed each other, 
as in Mark, so many of them as can be brought under one appropriate head, with proper 
subdivisions, form one section, of course, without altering in any way their succession in 



10 PREFACE. 



the text. This arrangement will aid the reader much in understanding the connection 
existing between the successive portions of a Gospel, like that of Mark, and in perceiv- 
ing the design of the Evangelist. 

2. Wherever it is necessary, the text of a section is preceded by general remarks, 
the object of which is to clear up peculiar critical or chronological difficulties, or to 
give explanations which could not be attached to any particular part of the text. 

3. The merely linguistical and archaeological notes, parallel passages, and different 
readings, not affecting the doctrinal exposition of the text, are printed in smaller type 
at the bottom of the page, in order to leave the exegesis proper uninterrupted. 

4. The exegetical notes proper follow the text, the different points to be commented 
upon being marked by the verse, etc. 

5. My design, with regard to the Homiletical Suggestions, in the German edition has 
been partly to aid young ministers in their preparations for the pulpit, partly to enable 
those who may not go through the exegetical process to make a practical improvement 
of the text. They are on this account, in German, added to the exegetical notes in all 
cases, except where the exegesis and the practical application of a section naturally coin- 
cide_, as, for instance, in our Lord's Sermon on the Mount and in the Parables. But in 
the English edition I have retained but a small portion, partly because I considered them 
neither needed by, nor adapted to, the American public, and because they would lose too 
much in the translation; partly because in the second half of the Gospel of Matthew I 
found the exegesis to be too much interwoven with practical application, and too exten- 
sive to make the addition of separate practical reflections convenient. In place of the 
German Homiletical Suggestions I substituted, where I could, condensed sketches from 
the Homilist, a work of classic character; and the lack of Homiletical Suggestions in 
Matthew I found a convenient opportunity to supply in the parallel passages of Mark. 

v One more remark. The title of the German original is: A Commentary on the New 
Testament. Vol. I. The Gospels of Matthew and Mark, with a General Introduction, etc. 
It is my intention, by Divine permission, to devote the rest of my life to the continuation 
of this work; and I shall endeavor to adapt it at once to the English as well as the Ger- 
man reader. The plan of the Commentary, however, will be, of course, modified by the 
peculiarity of each book, as will be perceived by the treatment of the Gospel of Mark. 
That the Divine blessing may rest upon this effort which has sprung from the ardent 
desire to contribute something toward promoting a more thorough study of the New 
Testament by the laity as well as by the ministry, and to lead sincere inquirers after 
truth to the Savior, is the devout prayer of 

THE AUTHOR. 

Cincinnati, April 4, 1864. 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 



CONTENTS. 



PART I. 

THE GENUINENESS OR INTEGRITY OF THE SA- 
CRED TEXT. 

PAGE. 

§1. Introductory Remarks 15 

CHAPTER I. 

THE HISTORY OF THE TEXT. 

§ 2. The Change of the Original Text with regard 

to its Outward Appearance 16 

§ 3. Some General Remarks on the Existing Manu- 
scripts of the New Testament 17 

§ 4. A Consideration of the Variety of Readings 
presented by the Manuscripts of the New 
Testament 19 

CHAPTER II. 

THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF SUCCESS IN AN ESSENTIAL MUTI- 
LATION OR CORRUPTION OF THE GOSPEL RECORD. 

§ 5. Argument from the Agreement of the Respect- 
ive Copies of the Four Gospels 21 

§6. Argument drawn from Other Considerations 24 



PART II. 

THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 
§7. Introductory Remarks 28 

CHAPTER I. 

THE OUTWARD HISTORICAL TESTIMONIES. 

§8. The Testimony of the Apostolical Fathers 28 

§ 9. The Testimony of the Fathers in the Sub-Apos- 
tolical Age, from A. D. 120-170 31 

§ 10. The Formation of a Canon of the Universally- 
acknowledged Books of the New Testament 
at the Close of the Second Century 36 

§11. The Early Versions of the New Testament 39 

§12. The Testimony of Heretical and Apocryphal 

Writings 41 

§13. The Testimony of Heathen Adversaries 52 

CHAPTER II. 

THE INTERNAL EVIDENCES. 

§ 14. The Peculiar Dialect of Greek in which the 

Evangelists have written 53 

§15. Some other Characteristics of the Style in which 

the Gospel3 are written 59 



§16. 
§17. 
§18. 



PAGE. 

The Frequent Allusions of the Evangelists to 
the History of their Times 60 

The Relation of the Four Gospels to Each Other 
and to the Acts of the Apostles 69 

The Authenticity of the Gospels — a Postulate 
of Reason, as it alone accounts for the Ex- 
istence of the Christian Church, and for some 
of Paul's Epistles, whose Authenticity is uni- 
versally admitted 71 

The Absurdity of the Mythical Theory 76 



PART III. 

THE HISTORIC VERITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 
§20. Introductory Remarks „.„ 84 

CHAPTER I. 

A CONSIDERATION OF THE OBJECTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN 

RAISED AGAINST THE CREDIBILITY OF THE 

EVANGELISTS. 

§ 21. The Alleged Discrepancies or Contradictions in 

the Four Gospels 84 

§ 22. The Assumption that Miracles are Impossible 

and Unsusceptible of Proof. 86 

§ 23. The Alleged Lack of Sufficient Testimony by 

Profane Writers 92 



CHAPTER II. 



THE CREDIBILITY OF THE EVANGELISTS. 



§24. 



§25. 



The Evangelists were in a Condition to inform 
themselves accurately and thoroughly con- 
cerning the Things which they record 94 

The Evangelists exhibit in their Narratives 
no Symptoms of Mental Derangement which 
might have made them Victims of Delusion... 94 
§ 26. The Evangelists can not be charged with hav- 
ing had any Motive or Design to impose upon 
the World a report of what, if it did not 
take place, they must have known to be false. 



95 



CHAPTER HI. 

THE DIVINE SEAL STAMPED UPON THE GOSPEL HISTORY 
BY ITS SUBJECT THE PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST. 

§ 27. The Verity of the Gospel History best accred- 
ited by the Personality of Jesus Christ 97 

§ 28. The admitted outer Conditions of the Life of 
Jesus — leaving its astounding Results, as well 

13 



14 



CONTENTS. 



98 



as the unlimited Scope of the Mind of Jesus 
and the perfect Symmetry of his Character, 
utterly inexplicable, without the admission 

of a Supernatural and Divine Element 

29. The Sinlossness of Jesus — the Idea of which 
could not have been conceived by the Evan- 
gelists, if they had not seen it actualized in 
his Life — incontestably proving that he was 

not a mere Man 107 

The Miracles wrought on and performed by Je- 
sus, the Natural and Necessary Outflow of 
his historically-proved Personality, and, at 
the same time, the Ground and Warrant of 
all other true Miracles preceding and suc- 
ceeding his Appearance on Earth 120 



:30 



PART IV. 

THE ATTACKS OF MODERN CRITICISM ON THE IN- 
SPIRATION OP THE FIRST THREE GOSPELS. 

§ 31. The Relation which the Authenticity and Cred- 
ibility of the Gospel Records bear to their 
Inspiration 126 



232. 



£33. 



The Peculiar Agreement and Disagreement of 
the first three Evangelists in their Narra- 
tives, and the Various Explanations of this 
Singular Phenomenon 12V 

A Consideration of the Inspired Character of 
the Synoptical Gospels on the Ground of 
their being chiefly the Result of the Oral 
Teaching of the Apostles 134 



PART V. 

PRELIMINARY REMARKS ON THE GOSPEL 
HISTORY. 

ji 34. The Condition of the World, Jewish, Greek, 

and Roman, at the Advent of Christ 142 

\ 35. The Chronology and Harmony; of the Gospel 

Narratives 147 

A. The Date of the Birth of Christ 148 

B. The Duration of our Lord's Ministry and 

the Date of his Death 150 

C. A Synoptical Table of the Gospel History.. 152 

D. A Table for finding any Passage in the 

Synopsis of the Gospel History 173 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION 



TO THE 



GOSPEL EECOEDS 



PART I . 

THE GENUINENESS OR INTEGRITY OF THE SACRED TEXT. 
§1. INTRODUCTORY REMARKS. 

It is to be regretted that nearly all English writers on the Evidences are in the 
habit of using the words "genuine" and "authentic" as synonyms, and sometimes even 
of attaching to the word "authentic" the popular sense of "true" or "credible," by 
which the whole argumentation is obscured. A book is to be called genuine, if it has 
remained in all material points the same- as it was when it proceeded from its author. 
It is authentic, if it has proceeded at all from the person whose name it bears, or, where 
the name of the author was not assigned with certainty at the time of its origin, if it 
originated at the time and under the circumstances it professes to have done. A book 
may be genuine and authentic, and yet its contents may lack credibility. 

"We propose, in the order named, to inquire into the genuineness, the authenticity, 
and the credibility of the Gospel records, and then to consider their inspired char- 
acter. The object of this chapter is to show that the text of the four canonical Gospels 
has been preserved in its integrity — is genuine or uncorrupted. "What we have to 
say on this point applies to all the books of the New Testament, and will, therefore, 
not be repeated in the special Introductions to the other books. The investigation 
into the genuineness or integrity of the inspired writings is legitimate and of great 
importance. For though we may have the most satisfactory proofs that they proceeded 
at first from the apostles or evangelists whose names they bear, they may have been 
so altered since that time as to convey to us very false information with regard to their 
original contents. It is admitted on all hands that the original manuscripts disappeared 
at a very early time, owing to the frailty of the material on which the apostles wrote, 
and to the frequent use which was made of them by being read in the Churches and 
constantly transcribed, and that, in common with all other ancient writings, the original 
text of the New Testament has been exposed to the accidents to which all works 
preserved by transcription are liable. "We will, therefore, consider, first, the history 
of the text, as the German writers call it — that is, the changes to which the original 
was unavoidably subjected in the process of transcription — and then prove that all 
these changes have not impaired the integrity of the original. 

15 



16 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



OHAPTEE I. 

THE HISTORY OF THE TEXT. 
§ 2. The Change op the Original Text with regard to its Outward Appearance. 

Inasmuch as our present mode of publishing books is very different from that of 
ancient times, we can not but expect that the outward appearance of the original 
text underwent great changes by being transcribed from century to century, and a con- 
sideration of these external changes claims our attention first. The following points are 
of general interest: 

1. The authors of the New Testament used the charta — 6 ^apr-qr;, 2 John, 12 — paper 
made of layers of the papyrus, a plant that was very common in Egypt. Of this paper 
there Avere, in the apostles' times, several kinds in use, differing from each other in 
strength and durability. Of the existing manuscripts, however, none are written on 
papyrus, but on vellum or on paper of later origin. Yellum was the most durable, but 
also the most costly material. Not more than six manuscript fragments on vellum are 
known to be extant. All manuscripts on paper are of a much later date, those on cotton 
paper being posterior to the seventh century, and those on linen still later. 

2. As to the external form of the manuscripts, the ancients made use of rolls in their 
writings ; yet as this form was unhandy in several respects, the custom arose to write on 
large sheets, which were folded up like maps in an atlas, four, five, six, or eight fold, 
of different sizes. This is the form of all manuscripts extant. 

3. The Greek manuscripts were mostly written without division of words, in capital 
letters — which, in the time of Jerome, were called uncials — till the ninth century, when 
the so-called cursive handwriting — that is, writing with small letters, and capitals only 
at the head of certain words — came into use, as requiring less space and being better 
adapted for fast writing. The separation of words from each other by a point or empty 
space did not become general before the ninth century. 

4. Punctuation marks were seldom used by the ancients. The numerous mistakes 
of the fathers, or their uncertainty, how particular passages were to be read and under- 
stood, clearly prove that there was no regular or accustomed system of punctuation in 
use in the fourth century. Toward the middle of the fifth century Euthalius, of Alex- 
andria, wrote the Pauline epistles, and afterward the Gospels, stichometrically ; that is, 
in lines regulated by the sense, so that each terminated where some pause was to be 
made; when the line was not filled, the remainder was, at first, left empty, but after- 
ward, in order to save space, it was filled up, and a point was made to indicate the 
pause. The lines of the books were generally numbered and the number marked at the 
end. Although some full points are to be found in the Codex Alexandrinus, the Codex 
Vaticanus, and the Codex Bezae — as they also are in inscriptions four hundred years 
before the Christian era — yet there is abundant evidence that our present system of 
Greek punctuation was not fully adopted before the ninth century. 

5. The same remarks apply to the accents, spiritus — breathings— and the so-called 
iota subscriptum. The accents were gradually introduced. Some of the oldest man- 
uscripts have them, others not, and it is only toward the end of the tenth century that 
they became general. The rough breathing — spiritus asper — -was anciently a full letter 
in the form of the Latin H, and so it is found on monuments — e. gr., Hoi=6c. Afterward 
the first half of the letter (F) was used for the rough breathing, and the other half (J) 
for the smooth breathing, and from these two signs the modern form of breakings ( c> ) 
arose. According to the oldest manuscripts, it seems that the writers of the New Test- 
ament did not use these two signs, at least not uniformly. The iota subscriptum was 



THE GENUINENESS OF THE SACRED TEXT. 17 



anciently written as a letter in the line — iota postscriptum — afterward entirely omitted, 
but came into general use as iota subscriptum with the introduction of the cursive char- 
acters. Whether a word was originally meant for duzfj, aurrj, or aS-nj, must be determined 
by the context alone. 

6. Our present division of the sacred text into chapters and verses is of still more 
recent date. The first general division was made in the thirteenth century, in all prob- 
ability, by the Cardinal Hugo Carensis, and the latter by Eobert Stephanus in 1551, 
after a variety of other divisions had been in partial use before. Tertullian already 
speaks of capitula in portions of the New Testament Scriptures. But this division did 
neither extend over all the books of the New Testament, nor was it in general use, as 
far as it went. In early use was the division into zswdlata, portions much smaller than 
our chapters and larger than our verses. The Gospel of Matthew had 355 such xswdlaia. 
that of Mark 234, that of Luke 342, that of John 231, altogether 1,162. This division 
was introduced by Ammonius, of Alexandria, in his Gospel Harmony — to Sid -saGdpwv 
iuayylhov — and afterward completed by Eusebius. A later division was that into rirXoi — - 
tituli— -introduced in the fifth century. The Gospel of Matthew was divided into 68, 
that of Mark into 48, that of Luke into 83, and that of John into 18 such tituli. Our 
present division has, of course, no claims whatever to the authority of the text, and 
being, in a number of instances, certainly faulty, the reader must take care not to be 
misled by it; yet, as it is in universal use, and is of great advantage for the purpose 
of reference, it is not expedient to make a change. Besides the older divisions, which 
we have named, selections of the New Testament Scriptures — pericopai — were made for 
the public reading on each Sunday in the ecclesiastical year. The time and manner 
of their introduction are uncertain. Those from the Acts and the Epistles were prob- 
ably first introduced by Euthalius; but those from the Gospels were undoubtedly earlier, 
at least in the Latin Church. These selections were often bound up separately, in their 
regular order, and are also of moment in Biblical criticism. 

7. The inscriptions or titles of the various books of the New Testament, it is gener- 
ally admitted, were not originally written by the apostles, but were subsequently added 
as the seal which the Church stamped upon them in settling the canon. The subscrip- 
tions annexed to some of the Epistles are manifestly spurious. They are altogether 
wanting in some ancient manuscripts of the best note, and in others they are greatly 
varied. Some contain false assertions. 

§ 3. Some General Remarks on the Existing Manuscripts. 

1. The autographs — manuscripts of the New Testament, which were written either by 
the apostles themselves or by amanuenses under their immediate inspection, (Rom. xvi, 
22 ; Gal. vi, 11 ; 2 Thess. iii, 17 ; 1 Cor. xvi, 21,) have long since perished, and we have no 
information whatever concerning their history. It has been thought that Ignatius and 
Tertullian appealed to them. Ignatius in his letter to the Philadelphians says, that he 
heard some say : " If I do not find it h zoiq dpyainiz, I do not believe it in the Gospel ;" 
but zd dpyaia can here mean only the Old Testament writings, since the context shows, 
that the objection quoted came from Judaizers, who were unwilling to believe any thing 
in the Gospels that was not contained in the Old Testament. Tertullian appeals to the 
autenticai literal of the apostles as being read at his time in the Churches at Corinth, 
Philippi, Ephesus, etc. Prom this passage it might seem as if the autographs were 
referred to ; but from another passage in the same author it plainly appears, that not 
autographs, but correct copies of them, in the original language, made and preserved by 
the respective Churches, were meant. If the autographs had existed at that time, the 
Church fathers would certainly have appealed to them in their controversies with the 
heretics on the genuineness of disputed passages. 

2 



18 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



2. No existing manuscript of the New Testament can be traced higher than the fourth 
century. The number of manuscripts that have thus far become known is about seven 
hundred. They belong to different centuries, from the fifth, perhaps the fourth, down to 
the sixteenth, and are accordingly written in different characters, the oldest in uncials, by 
far the most in cursive letters, partly without, partly with divisions into words and sec- 
tions, with or without accents, and with punctuation marks of different kinds. These 
very points, the shape of the letters, the material, and orthography furnish the principal 
data for determining the time and country, when and where the manuscripts were made. 
Sometimes other internal data are furnished by the manuscripts, giving, in a few 
instances, the name of the copyist and the year when the manuscript was made, or 
containing menologies, in which the festival days of the saints are mentioned, on which 
certain portions of Scripture are to be read in the Churches. As these menologies often 
designate such days as were celebrated in honor of certain saints from otherwise known 
dates, in certain countries, they furnish important data for determining the time and 
place when and where the manuscript was made. 

3. Yery few manuscripts contain the whole either of the Old or of the New Testa- 
ment. By far the greater part — five hundred — have only the four Gospels, because they 
were most frequently read in the Churches ; two hundred the Acts and catholic epistles ; 
three hundred the Pauline epistles, and one hundred the Apocalypse. Almost all of 
them, especially the more ancient manuscripts, are imperfect, either from the injuries of 
time or from neglect. All manuscripts, the most ancient not excepted, have erasures and 
corrections ; which, however, were not always effected so dextrously, but that the orig- 
inal writing may sometimes be seen. 

4. Before the invention of paper, the great scarcity of parchment in different 
places induced many persons to obliterate the works of ancient writers, in order to 
write in their place another work. Such manuscripts are termed Codices Palimpsesti or 
Rescripti. In general, a Codex Eescriptus is easily known, as it rarely happens that the 
former writing is so completely erased as not to exhibit some traces ; in a few instances 
both writings are legible. Yery valuable discoveries have been made in these rewritten 
manuscripts. 

5. Besides the manuscripts which contain the whole New Testament, or certain books 
of it in full, there are others which contain only the selections or pericopce ; they are 
called Codices Ecclesiastici or Lectionaria. These selections were often prefaced with 
some remarks respecting the day on which they were to be read, and such remarks have, 
in some instances, crept into the text. 

6. Some manuscripts have not only the Greek text, but are accompanied with a ver- 
sion, which is either interlined or in a parallel column ; these are called Codices Bilingues. 
The greatest number is in Greek and Latin ; and the Latin version is, in general, one 
of those which existed before the time of Jerome. 

7. A comparative description of the different manuscripts, and an account of the 
various critical methods adopted to arrange them in certain classes or families, can be 
of interest and profit only to the professional scholar, but does not lie within our scope, 
and is to be sought in the special works on Biblical Text Criticism. Yet a few words 
of explanation may be expected by the general reader on the critical references of vari- 
ous readings, which he will find in the foot-notes of the text in the author's Commentary. 
The manuscripts in uncials have, since Yfetstein, been designated with the capital letters 
of the Latin alphabet, and where these do not suffice, with the Greek capitals ; those in 
cursive characters — minuscles — with the common Arabic ciphers. But as the manu- 
scripts of both kinds — the uncial and cursive — are divided into four classes, namely, 
into codices, containing the Gospels, the Acts and catholic epistles, the Pauline epistles, 
and the Apocalypse, both the capital letters and ciphers commence in them four times 
anew. Thus, a codex, that contains the whole New Testament, comes up in the four 



THE GENUINENESS OF THE SACRED TEXT. 19 

classes with the capital or cipher peculiar to each class. As these tvro marks, capitals 
and ciphers, often vary in the different classes in the same manuscripts, and as new 
documents are constantly coming into the lists, it is necessary to notice, when they are 
simply quoted with their capitals or ciphers, to which book of the New Testament the 
quotations refer, in order to find them in the lists of the codices. 

§ 4. A Consideration op the Variety op Readings presented by the Manu- 
scripts of the New Testament. 

Alarming as it may appear to the simple, pious Christian, to he told of fifty thousand 
up to one hundred and fifty thousand different readings, as they have been variously 
estimated, in the books of the New Testament, and much as infidels have boasted of this 
discovery, a slight examination of the matter will not only completely remove all appre- 
hensions, but furnish us with the most conclusive proof that Divine Providence has 
provided the very best security for the integrity of the documents, upon which our 
faith rests. 

In the first place, the number of various readings, great as it appears, is really less, in 
proportion, than that of the various readings extant in most classic authors, when com- 
pared with the quantity of text examined, and the number of manuscripts and other 
authorities collated in each particular case. Nineteen out of twenty, at least, are to be 
dismissed at once from consideration, because they are found in so few authorities, and 
their origin is so easily explained, that no critic would regard them as having any claim 
to be inserted in the text. Of those which remain, a very great majority are entirely 
unimportant. They consist in transpositions or omissions of letters, the use of different 
grammatical forms, the exchange of synonymous words and transpositions of words in 
sentences; and a very small number affects the sense at all. Only six passages have been 
discovered where a vital doctrine is affected by the different readings; but even in these 
instances the doctrine itself is not periled, because it is plainly taught in other passages. 

The great value of the immense amount of labor, which has been expended for nearly 
a century upon the received text of the New Testament, consists not so much in the 
emendations of that text, as in establishing the fact, that the original text has been 
transmitted to us with remarkable integrity, that far the greater part of the variations 
among different copies are of no authority or of no importance, and that some of them 
are so trifling as not to admit of being made apparent in a translation. 

The condition of the text, then, is such as we ha - ^ to expect from the human agents 
through whom the documents were transmitted to posterity. The copyist was naturally 
exposed to mistakes of the eye by the unbroken current uncials — capitals ; thus letters 
of similar form were interchanged, some words were omitted, others written twice, 
others transposed, and sometimes whole sentences were erroneously divided. Those 
who copied from dictation — a common practice — were liable to errors by confounding 
sounds. Mistakes were also made, at a later period, by writing out abbreviations. 
Again, some words had been left out, and then were set as glosses in the margin; the 
copyist wishing to restore the original text, inserted the gloss or glosses in the text, 
but often in the wrong place. Errors of this kind are more frequent in the manuscripts 
of the New Testament than in those of other ancient writings, because the former were 
more frequently copied than the latter, and there were, therefore, more intermediate links 
between the autographs and the later copies. Other corruptions of the text arose from 
the efforts to correct it or make it plainer by removing the peculiarities of the New 
Testament diction, or by the reception of glosses into the text, which had at first been 
Written in the margin to explain a difficulty, especially in the synoptical Gospels. The 
higher the authority of these writings rose, the more natural became the desire of the 
later copyist to amend a supposed error of an earlier one. 



20 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



To have prevented such variations of the original text would have required such a 
continuous miracle on the part of God, as would not have been in accordance with God's 
dealings with man, nor consistent with the freedom of human agency. "They," says 
Dr. Hill, in his Lectures on Divinity, "who seem to think that the all-ruling providence 
of God should have preserved every copy of the original from any kind of vitiation, 
forget the extent of the miracle which they ask, when they demand, that all who ever 
were employed in copying the New Testament should at all times have been effectually 
guarded by the Spirit of God from negligence, and their works kept safe from the injuries 
of time. They forget, moreover, that the very circumstance to which they object has, in 
the wisdom of God, been highly favorable to the cause of truth. The infidel has enjoyed 
his triumph and has exposed his ignorance. Men of erudition have been encouraged to 
apply their talents to a subject which opens so large a field for their exercise. Their 
research and their discoveries have demonstrated the futility of the objection, and have 
shown that the great body of the people in every country, who are incapable of such 
research, may safely rest in the Scriptures as they are, and that the most scrupulous 
critics, by the inexhaustible sources of correction which lie open to them, may attain 
nearer to an absolute certainty with regard to the true reading of the books of the New 
Testament, than of any other ancient book in any language. If they require more, their 
demand is unreasonable ; for the religion of Jesus does not profess to satisfy the careless, 
or to overpower the obstinate, but rests its pretensions upon evidence sufficient to bring 
conviction to those who with honest hearts inquire after the truth, and are willing to 
exercise their reason in attempting to discover it." 

The Church was at all times enabled to ascertain, in all essential points, the true text 
of the New Testament writings, by means of the great number of old manuscripts of the 
very ancient versions, which were made from copies much nearer the original manu- 
scripts than any that we have, and of the many quotations with which the works of the 
Christian fathers and other early writers abound. For a full description of these means, 
as well as for the rules in using them, the canons of criticism, which have been investi- 
gated and digested by many learned men, we must again refer the reader to the elaborate 
works that have been written on this subject. We will only add, that it may please 
Divine Providence to bring to light ancient documents, not yet discovered, an instance of 
which we have had but a few years ago in the discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus, by 
Tischendorf. However that may be, with the apparatus and the clearly-ascertained 
principles of criticism which we possess now, we may confidently indulge the hope of 
recovering the original purity of the text, where it is yet obscured. With regard to the 
duty of the critical examination of the correctness of the received text, the eminent En- 
glish commentator, Dr. Ellicott, makes, in the recently-published "Aids to Faith," the 
following remarks, which must commend themselves to every candid mind: "Let the 
interpreter be seduced by no timidity or prejudices from ascertaining the true text. Let 
him not fall back upon the too often repeated statement, that, as readings affect no great 
points of doctrine, the subject may be left in abeyance. It is, indeed, most true, that dif- 
ferent readings of such a character as 1 Tim. iii, 16, or interpolations such as 1 John v, 7, 
are few and exceptional. It is, indeed, a cause for devout thankfulness, that out of the 
vast number of various readings so few affect vital questions ; still it is indisputably a 
fact, that but few pages of the New Testament can be turned over without our finding- 
points of the greatest interest affected by very trivial variations of reading. On the 
presence or absence of an article in John v, 1, the whole chronology of our Lord's minis- 
terial life may be said almost entirely to depend. A very slight alteration in Mark vii, 31, 
would indicate a fact of deep historical interest, and is of very great significance in refer- 
ence alike to commands subsequently given to the apostles to preach the Gospel, and to 
former prohibitions. (Matt, x, 5.) The absence of two words in Eph. i — now rendered 
somewhat more probable by the testimony of the Codex Sinaiticus — gives a fresh aspect 



THE GENUINENESS OF THE SACRED TEXT. 21 

to an important Epistle, disposes at once of several prima facie difficulties, and, further, 
must be taken greatly into account in the adjustment of some subordinate, but inter- 
esting questions with which the Epistle has been thought to stand in connection. (Col. 
iv, 16.) The presence or absence of a few words in Matt, xxviii, 9, affects considerably 
our ability to remove one of the many seeming discrepancies in the narratives of the first 
hours of the morn of the resurrection. We could multiply such examples; but perhaps 
enough has been said. There are, indeed, several grounds for thinking that there is an 
improved feeling on the whole subject; and there seem some reasons for hoping that, 
though no authoritative revision is likely to take place, nor, at present, perhaps, even to 
be desired, yet that the time is coming when there will be a considerable agreement on 
many of the results of modern criticism." 



CHAPTER II. 

IMPOSSIBILITY OF SUCCESS IN AN ESSENTIAL MUTILATION OR COR- 
RUPTION OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 

We have seen that there is nothing in the various readings to shake our faith in the 
integrity of the sacred text. On the contrary, the very disagreement of the manuscripts 
shows that there could have been no collusion ; but that the manuscripts were written, 
independently of each other, by persons separated by distance of time, remoteness of 
place, and diversity of opinion. This extensive independency of manuscripts on each 
other is the effectual check of Avillful alteration ; which, whenever attempted, must have 
been immediately corrected by the agreement of copies from various and distant regions 
out of the reach of the interpolator. We are aware that we here enter upon an argu- 
mentation, where the question of genuineness coincides with that of authenticity. This, 
however, does not militate against the distinction which we have made between the two 
terms. We may use an argument for the genuineness of the Gospel records, though it 
may also apply to their authenticity, and in doing so we furnish the reader with a natu- 
ral transition and proper introduction to Part II. 

The arguments which prove the Gospel records to have remained un corrupted have 
been set forth with peculiar force and clearness by Prof. A. Norton, in his " Evidences 
of the Genuineness of the Gospels," a work truly classic, but so learned and expensive 
as to be found only in the library of the professional scholar, and unadapted for general 
circulation in the orthodox Churches on account of the theological stand-point which the 
author occupies as a Unitarian. Yet the manner in which he presents the arguments 
on the uncorrupted preservation of the Gospel records is unsurpassed, and we can do our 
readers no better service than to give them in his own language, though in a condensed 
form and separated from those arguments that bear only on the authenticity of the 
records, which the author does not sufficiently distinguish from genuineness in the strict 
sense in which we have defined this word. 

§ 5. Argument from the Agreement of the Respective Copies of the Four 

Gospels. 

That the Gospels have not been corrupted, but have remained essentially the same as 
they were originally composed, appears, in the first place, from the agreement among 
our present manuscript copies. These were written in different countries, and at differ- 
ent periods. They have been found in places widely remote from each other ; in Asia, 



22 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



in Africa, and from one extremity of Europe to the other. Besides these manuscripts 
of the Greek text there are many manuscripts of ancient versions of the Gospels in 
different languages of each of the three great divisions of the world just mentioned. 
There are, likewise, many manuscripts of the works of the Christian Fathers abounding 
in quotations from the Gospels; and especially manuscripts of ancient commentaries on 
the Gospels, such as those of Origen, who lWed in the third century, and of Chrysostom, 
who lived in the fourth ; in which we find the sacred text quoted, as the different por- 
tions of it are successively the subjects of remark. 

Now, all these different copies of the Gospels, or parts of the Gospels, so numerous 
so various in their character, so unconnected, offering themselves to notice in parts of 
the world so remote from each other, concur in giving us essentially the same text. 
They vary, indeed, more or less from each other ; but their variations have arisen from 
the common accidents of transcription ; or, as regards the versions, partly from errors 
of translation ; or in respect to the quotations by the Fathers, from the circumstance, that 
in ancient as in modern times the language of Scripture was often cited without regard 
to verbal accuracy, in cases where no particular verbal accuracy was required. The 
agreement among the extant copies of any one of the Gospels, or of portions of it, is 
essential ; the disagreements are accidental and trifling, originating in causes which, 
from the nature of things, we know must have been in operation. The same work 
every -where appears ; and, by comparing together different copies, we are able to ascer- 
tain the original text to a great degree of exactness. But as these professed copies thus 
correspond with each other, it follows that they must all be derived from one original 
manuscript, and that such manuscript has been faithfully copied. 

Let us now consider the supposition that one transcriber, in one part of the world, 
would have made certain alterations in his copy, and inserted certain narratives which 
he had collected ; and another, in another jtlace, would have made different alterations, 
and inserted different narratives. Such copies, upon the supposition that this imagined 
license continued, would, when again transcribed, have been again changed and enlarged. 
Copies would have been continually multiplying, diverging more and more from the 
oi'iginal and from each other. ISTo generally -received text would have existed ; none, 
therefore, could have been preserved and handed down. Instead of that agreement 
among the copies of each Gospel which now exists, we should have found every-where 
manuscripts, presenting us with different collections of narratives and sayings, and 
differing, at the same time, in their arrangement of the same facts and in their general 
style of expression. The copies of these writings would have presented the same phe- 
nomena as those of some of the apocryphal books, as, for instance, that called the Gospel 
of the Infancy, which appears in several different forms, this collection of fables having 
been remodeled by one after another according to his fancy. It is, moreover, to be 
taken into consideration, that the transcriber of a manuscript, making such alterations 
as the hypothesis supposes, could by doing so not corrupt the work itself. His copy 
could have had no influence upon the ntimerous cotemporary copies in which the true 
text might be preserved, or into which different alterations might be introduced. It is 
quite otherwise since the invention of printing. Jle who now introduces a corruption 
into the printed edition of a work, introduces it into all the copies of that edition ; and 
if it be the only edition, into all the copies of that work. 

It is evident, from the preceding statements, that the existing copies of each of the 
Gospels have been derived from some common exemplar, faithfully followed by tran- 
scribers. But it may be said that this exemplar was not the original work, as it pro- 
ceeded from the hand of the Evangelist ; that the lineage of our present copies is not 
to be traced so high; but that, at some period, the course of corruption which has been 
described was arrested, and a standard text was selected and determined upon, which 
has served as an archetype for all existing copies, but that this text, thus fixed as the 



THE GENUINENESS OF THE SACRED TEXT. 23 

standard, had already suffered greatly from the corruptions of transcribers, and was very 
different from the original. According to Eichhorn, the Church selected, at the end of 
the second and the beginning of the third century, out of the many Gospels then extant, 
four, which had the greatest marks of credibility and the necessary completeness for 
common use, and labored to procure their general reception among Christians, with the 
suppression of all other Gospels. In order properly to judge of this supposition, let us 
first inquire whether, at the time named, "the Church" had the power to do what is 
ascribed to her. There was no single ecclesiastical government which extended over 
Christians, or over a majority of Christians, or over any considerable portion of their 
number. They had no regular modes of acting in concert, nor any effectual means 
whatever of combining together for a common purpose. Neither the whole body, nor 
a majority of Christians, ever met by delegation to devise common measures. Such an 
event did not take place till a hundred and twenty years after the end of the second 
century, when Christianity had become the established religion of the Eoman Empire, 
and the first general council, that of Nice, was called together by the Emperor Constan- 
tine. At the time of which we are speaking, the Christians were disturbed and unset- 
tled by frequent cruel persecutions. Exclusively of those generally considered as her- 
etics, they were alienated from each other by differences of religious opinion; for it was 
before the end of the second century that Yictor, Bishop of Eome, had excommunicated 
the Eastern Churches. This was the state of the Church at the end of the second cen- 
tury, and yet it is supposed that she came to an agreement to select four out of the 
many manuscript Gospels then in existence, all of which had been exposed to the license 
of transcribers. Of these four no traces are said to be discovered before that time ; but 
it was determined to adopt them for common use, to the prejudice, it would seem, of 
others longer known. There was, as it is supposed, a universal and silent compliance 
with this proposal. Copies of the four new manuscripts and translations of them were 
at once circulated through the world. All others ceased to be transcribed, and suddenly 
disappeared from common notice. Copyers were at the same time checked in their 
former practice of licentious alteration. Thus a revolution was effected in regard to the 
most important sacred books of the Christians, and at the same time better habits were 
introduced among the transcribers of those books. 

Now, who can suppose that any such series of events took place at the end of the 
second century? It is intrinsically incredible. Let us consider for a moment what an 
effort would be required and what resistance must be overcome in order to bring into 
general use among a single nation of Christians at the present day, not other Gospels, 
but simply a nefr and better translation of our present Gospels. In the case under 
consideration, allowing the supposed change to have been possible, it must have met 
with great opposition ; it must have provoked much discussion ; there must have been 
a great deal written about it at the time ; it must have been often referred to afterward, 
especially in the religious controversies which took place; it would have been one of the 
most important events in the history of Christians, and the account of the transaction 
must have been preserved. That there are no traces of it whatever is alone conclusive 
evidence that it never took place. 

Lastly: our present Gospels, it is conceded, were in common use among Christians 
about the end of the second century. The number of manuscripts then in existence 
bore some propoi'tion to the number of Christians. The number of Christians can be 
safely set down at three millions. As few possessions could have been valued by a 
Christian so highly as a copy of the records of that Gospel, for which he was exposing 
himself to the severest sacrifices, and as a common copy of the Gospels could not have 
been very expensive, to judge from a remark of Juvenal respecting the cost of books in 
ancient times, there can be little doubt that copies of the Gospels were owned by a large 
portion of Christians; and, in supposing one copy for every fifty Christians, the estimate 



24 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



is probably much within the truth. This proportion would give us sixty thousand copies 
of the Gospels for three millions of Christians. But whether more or less, if there had 
been important discrepancies among the large number of copies, in common use and 
dispersed over the world, no series of events could either have destroyed the evidence 
of these discrepancies or could have produced the present agreement among existing 
copies, derived, as they are, from those in use at the period in question. The agreement, 
then, at the end of the second century, among the numerous copies of the respective 
Gospels, proves that an archetype of each Gospel had been faithfully followed by the 
transcribers. This archetype, as we have seen, there is no ground for imagining to have 
been any other than the original work of the author of that Gospel. It follows, there- 
fore, that in the interval between the composition of these works and the end of the 
second century, their text did not suffer, as has been fancied, from the licentiousness 
of transcribers. 

§ 6. Arguments Drawn from Other Considerations. 

1. It would have been inconsistent with the common sentiments and practice of 
mankind for transcribers to make such alterations and additions as have been imagined 
in the sacred books which they were copying. Such license has never been attributed 
to the transcribers of the ancient classics, and what we apprehend so little concerning 
other writings, is still less to be apprehended concerning the Gospels, on account of 
their sacred character. Let us adduce a few testimonies in proof of this fact and in 
refutation of the assertion made by Eichhorn, that, " before the invention of printing, 
in transcribing a manuscript, the most arbitrary alterations were considered as allow- 
able, since they affected only an article of private property, written for the use of an 
individual." 

Justin Martyr, in the dialogue which he represents himself as having held with 
Trypho, an unbelieving Jew, charges the Jews with having expunged certain passages 
of the Old Testament relating to Christ. To this Trypho answers that the charge seems 
to him incredible. Justin replies, " It does seem incredible ; for to mutilate the Scrij)- 
tures would be a more fearful crime than the worship of the golden calf, or than the 
sacrifice of children to demons, or than slaying the prophets themselves." Is it credible 
that, when such sentiments existed with regard to the heinousness of attempting an 
adulteration of the Old Testament writings, the Christian Churches would suffer a tam- 
pering with their own sacred books? 

Some of the heretics in the second century made, or were charged with making, alter- 
ations in the Christian Scriptures, in order to accommodate them to their own opinions. 
Of such corruptions of Scripture Dionysius, who was Bishop of Corinth about the year 
170, thus speaks : " I have written epistles at the desire of the brethren. But the 
apostles of the devil have filled them with darnel, taking out some things and adding 
others. Against such a woe is denounced. It is not wonderful, therefore, that some 
have undertaken to corrupt the Scriptures of the Lord, since they have corrupted writ- 
ings not to be compared with them." The meaning of Dionysius is, that the persons 
spoken of having shown their readiness to commit such a crime, it was not strange that 
they should even corrupt the Scriptures, these being works of much higher authority 
than his epistles, and from the falsification of which more advantage was to be gained. 
From the manner in which Dionysius denounces the guilt of some "apostles of the 
devil," in corrupting the Scriptures, we may confidently infer that the Christian 
Churches were not guilty of such a practice. And yet this very passage of Dionysius is 
quoted by Eichhorn in support of his supposition. Equally groundless is his appeal to 
a saying of Celsus. " Celsus," says he, "objects to the Christians that they had changed 
their Gospels three and four times and oftener, as if they were deprived of their senses." 



THE GENUINENESS OF THE SACRED TEXT. 25 

If the charge of Celsus were correctly represented, the first obvious answer would be, 
that such a charge is as little to be credited, upon the mere assertion of Celsus, as vari- 
ous other calumnies of that writer against the Christians, which no one at the present 
day believes. But Celsus does not say what he is represented as saying. He does not 
bring the charge against the Christians generally, but against some Christians. His 
words are preserved in the work composed by Origen, in reply to Celsus ; and, correctly 
rendered, are as follows : " Afterward Celsus says, that some believers, like men driven 
by drunkenness to commit violence on themselves, have altered the Gospel history, since 
its first composition, three times, four times, and oftener, and have refashioned it, so as 
to be able to deny the objections made against it." To this the whole reply of Origen 
is as follows : " I know of none who have altered the Gospel history, except the followers 
of Marcion, of Valentinus, and I think also those of Lucan. But this affords no ground 
for reproach against the religion itself, but against those who have dared to corrupt the 
Gospels. And as it is no reproach against philosophy that there are Sophists, or Epicu- 
reans, or Peripatetics, or any others, who hold false opinions, so also it is no reproach 
against true Christianity that there are those who have altered the Gospels and intro- 
duced heresies foreign from the teaching of Jesus." It is evident that Origen regarded 
the words of Celsus not as a grave charge against the whole body of Christians, but as a 
mere declamatory accusation, which he was not called upon to repel by any elaborate 
reply. Celsus compares the conduct of those whom he charges with altering the Gos- 
pels to that of men impelled by drunkenness to commit violence on themselves. To this 
comparison no objection is to be made ; for the question, whether the early Christians 
altered the Gospels, really resolves itself into the question, Avhether they acted like men 
intoxicated to the evident ruin of their cause. 

To return, then, to the positive testimonies against the supposition of a corruption 
of the Gospel records having been suffered by the Christian Churches, "we have not 
received," says Irenaeus, (contra Haer., 1. ii, c. 1,) "the knowledge of the way of our 
salvation by any others than those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which 
Gospel they first preached, and afterward, by the will of God, transmitted to us in writ- 
ing, that it might be the foundation and pillar of our faith." He immediately proceeds 
to speak particularly of the composition of the four Gospels, referring them to the authors 
to whom they are commonly ascribed. These books he afterward represents as the most 
important books of Scripture, (lb., 1. iii, c. 11, § 8,) and the Scriptures he calls "oracles of 
God." (lb., 1. i, c. 8, §1.) He says, "We know that the Scriptures are perfect, as dic- 
tated by the Logos of God and his Spirit." (lb., 1. ii, e. 28, § 2.) 

Clement, of Alexandria, also calls the Scriptures divinely inspired, and speaks of the 
four Gospels, in contradistinction from all other accounts of Christ, as having been 
handed down to the Christians of his age. (Stromat., 1. iii, § 13.) Tertullian manifests the 
same reverence for the Scriptures, and especially for the Gospels, as his cotemporaries, 
Irenaeus and Clement. He, like them, quotes the Gospels as works of decisive authority, 
in the same manner as any modern theologian might do. He wrote much against the 
heretic Marcion, whom he charges with having rejected the other Gospels, and having 
mutilated the Gospel of Luke, to conform it to his system. This leads him to make some 
statements which have a direct bearing on the present subject. "I affirm," says Ter- 
tullian, "that not only in the. Churches founded by apostles, but in all which have 
fellowship with them, that Gospel of Luke, which we so steadfastly defend, has been 
received from its first publication." "The same authority," he adds, "of the apostolical 
Churches will support the other Gospels, which, in like manner, Ave have from them, 
conformably to their copies." (Adv. Marcion, 1. iv, §5.) "They," he says, "who were 
resolved to teach otherwise than the truth, were under a necessity of new modeling the 
records of the doctrine." "As they could not have succeeded in corrupting the doctrine 
without corrupting its records, so we could not have preserved and transmitted the 



26 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



doctrine in its integrity, but by preserving the integrity of its records." (De Praescr. 
Haeret., § 28.) 

The passages quoted show the state of opinion and feeling among Christians during 
the first two centuries, and it is clear that those who entertained these sentiments wo aid 
neither make nor permit intentional alterations in the Gospels. 

2. About the close of the second century, different Christian writers express strong 
censure of the mutilations and changes which they charge some heretics, particularly 
Marcion, with having made in the Gospels and other books of the New Testament. 
Some passages to this effect have been quoted; it is unnecessary to adduce others, because 
the fact is well known and universally admitted. But if our Gospels had not existed in 
their present form till the close of the second century, if before that time their text had 
been fluctuating, and assuming in different copies a different form, such as transcribers 
might choose to give it, those by whom they were used could not have ventured to speak 
with such confidence of the alterations of the heretics. 

3. We happen to have, in the words of a single writer, decisive evidence that no such 
differences as would imply a mutilation or corruption of the text ever existed in the 
manuscripts of the canonical Gospels. Origen was born A. D. 185, and flourished during 
the first half of the third century. He was particularly skilled in the criticism of the 
Scriptures. He had the means of consulting various manuscripts of the Gospels, of which 
he made a critical use, noticing their various readings. His notices are principally found 
in his Commentaries on the Gospels. If transcribers had indulged in such licentious 
alterations as have been supposed, he could not have been ignorant of them. But the 
various readings he adduces give a convincing proof that the manuscripts of his time 
differed, to say the least, as little from each other as the manuscripts now extant, and, 
consequently, that before his time there was the same care to preserve the original text 
as there has been since. This conviction is not weakened by a passage in his writings, 
which may seem at first view to favor the opposite opinion. Origen expresses his doubts 
in the genuineness of the words, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," (Matt. 
xix, 19,) and says: "But if it were not that in many other passages there is a difference 
among copies, so that all those of the Gospel of Matthew do not agree together, and so 
also as it regards the other Gospels, it might well seem irreverent in any one to suspect 
that the precept has been inserted here without its having been mentioned by the Savior. 
But it is evident that there exists much difference among copies; partly from the care- 
lessness of some transcribers, partly from the rashness of others in altering improperly 
what they find written, and partly from those revisers who add or strike out according 
to their own judgment." (Com. in Matt., torn, xv, §14.) In this passage there is no 
reference to the intentional corruptions of the heretics, in which case another Greek 
word would have been used for "altering" and for "revisers;" it refers only to the well- 
known, common causes of error in the transcription of manuscripts. We learn from it 
that transcribers were sometimes careless ; that they sometimes improperly altered from 
conjecture a reading in the copy before them, which they fancied to be erroneous; and 
that those whose business was to revise manuscripts after transcription, for the purpose 
of correcting errors, did sometimes, in the want of proper critical apparatus, rely too 
much upon their mere judgment concerning what was probably the true text. His 
language in speaking of the difference among the manuscripts is even not as strong as 
that used by some modern critics concerning the disagreement among our present copies, 
which we know does not involve any essential mutilation or corruption. The passage of 
Origen, then, shows, on the one hand, that he did not regard the Gospels as having been 
exposed to any other causes of error than those common in the transcription of manu- 
scripts; on the other hand, that he had no disposition to keep out of view or to extenuate 
the differences among the copies extant in his time. We may, therefore, be satisfied that 
none of more importance existed than what we find noticed by him. 



THE GENUINENESS OF THE SACRED TEXT. 27 

We may reason in a similar manner from all the notices in ancient writers relating 
to the text of the Gospels. Nothing can be alleged from their writings to prove any 
greater difference among the copies extant in their time than what is found among those 
which we now possess. It may here be proper to refer to an objection which Eichhorn 
makes. He says : " Clement, of Alexandria, at the end of the second century, speaks of 
those who corrupted the Gospels, and ascribes it to them; that at Matthew v, 10, instead 
of the words, ' for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,' there was found in some manuscripts, 
1 for they shall be perfect ;' and in others, ' for they shall have a place where they shall not be 
persecuted' " This statement is erroneous. Clement does not speak of those who cor- 
rupted, but of those who paraphrased the Gospels ; nor does he give the words alleged 
by him, as various readings in manuscripts of the Gospels. Quoting the original text 
incorrectly, from memory, in these words, " Blessed are they who are persecuted for 
righteousness' sake, for they shall be called the sons of God," he adds, " or as some, who 
have paraphrased the Gospels, express it : Blessed are they who are persecuted for right- 
eousness' sake, for they shall be perfect ; and blessed are they who are persecuted for my 
sake, for they shall attain a place where they shall not be persecuted." Clement evi- 
dently expresses no indignation against those of whom he speaks, as he would have done 
if the passages quoted had assumed three such different forms in the manuscripts which 
he had seen ; for that would prove a general license of corruption in his time. 

4. If our present Gospels had been the result of successive additions, made by differ- 
ent hands to a common basis, there would have been a marked diversity of style in 
different portions of the same Gospel, so that these works would have been very unlike 
what they are now. We should have perceived clear traces of different writers, having 
greater or less command of expression, and accustomed to a different use of language. 
But Avhen we examine the Gospels, there is nothing which discovers marks of their 
having been subjected to such a process of interpolation. On the contrary, there is 
decisive evidence that each is the work of an individual, and has been preserved, as 
it was written by him. The dialect, the style, and the modes of narration in the Gospels, 
generally, have a very marked and peculiar character. Each Gospel, also, is distin- 
guished from the others by individual peculiarities in the use of language, and other 
characteristics exclusively its own. 

5. In those cases in which we have good reason to suspect an ancient writing of being 
spurious altogether, or of having received spurious additions, the fact is almost always 
betrayed by something in the character of the writing itself. Spurious works and inter- 
polations in authentic works are discovered by something not congruous to the character 
of the pretended author, by a style different from his own, by an implied reference to 
opinions or events of a later age, or by some other bearing and purpose not consistent 
with the time when they are pretended to have been written. Traces of the times when 
they were really composed are almost always apparent. This must have been the case 
with the Gospels if they had been subjected to alterations and additions from different 
editors and transcribers with different views and feelings, more or less affected by opin- 
ions and circumstances which had sprung up in their own times. But no traces of a 
later age than that which we assign for ihe'iv composition appear in the Gospels. 



28 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



PART II. 

THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 
§7. INTRODUCTORY REMARKS. 

By the authenticity of the Gospels we understand that they were written by the men 
whose names they bear, who were partly eye-witnesses, partly persons cotemporaneous with the 
events narrated. To declare the Gospels authentic in this sense has been pronounced by 
infidels to be " an assumption originating from the titles which the Biblical books bear in 
our canon." We grant that little reliance can be placed on these titles or headings, but 
it is absurd to say that these headings originated the belief that the books were written 
by the men whose names they bear ; for before the titles were attached, the belief must 
have existed. There is not the slightest pretense for insinuating that there was ever any 
doubt as to the authorship of any one of the historical books of the New Testament ; 
which are as uniformly ascribed to the writers whose names they bear as the " Return of 
the Ten Thousand " to Xenophon, or the " Lives of the Csesars " to Suetonius. There is, 
indeed, far more and stronger testimony concerning the authenticity of the four Gospels 
than exists with respect to the works of almost any classical writer; for it is a rare 
occurrence for classical works to be distinctly quoted, or for their authors to be men- 
tioned by name within a century of the time of their publication. 



OHAPTEE I. 

THE OUTWARD HISTORICAL TESTIMONIES. 
§ 8. The Testimony oe the Apostolical Fathers. 

By the Apostolical Fathers we understand those early Christian writers who lived 
wholly or in part in the very age of the apostles, and were more or less conversant with 
them. These are : Clement, of Borne, mentioned (Phil, iv, 3) as a fellow-laborer of Paul, 
afterward Bishop of Rome ; Barnabas, of Cyprus, frequently mentioned in the New 
Testament as a co-laborer of Paul ; Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch in Syria, where he is 
said to have been ordained by Peter; Polycarp, a disciple of John, ordained by him 
Bishop of Smyrna, where he died a martyr ; Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, 
the companion of Polycarp, (he belongs, however, rather to the sub-apostolic age, as we 
shall show at another place.) Of these Apostolical Fathers we have only a few writings 
and fragments preserved. Hermas, the author of " the Shepherd," is generally reckoned 
among the Apostolical Fathers, and assumed to have been saluted by Paul, (Rom. xvi, 
14 ;) but it is more probable that " the Shepherd " had a later origin. 

The learned Dr. Lardner has carefully collated all the passages in which these writers 
have made any allusion to the canonical books of the New Testament. Their allusions 
to the Epistles are far more numerous and direct than those to the Gospels. The latter 



THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 29 



have been subjected by Eichhorn and others to a very rigid scrutiny, for the purpose of 
destroying the evidence they furnish that our Gospels were known to the Apostolical 
Fathers. It is said, that " by far the greater part of them are so general in the allusions 
they are supposed to make to passages occurring in the Gospels, that no weight can be 
attached to them." To this it might be sufficient to reply, that the very peculiarity of 
these allusions, instead of invalidating the evidence, furnishes a very strong argument 
in favor of the existence of the Gospels in their day. "When does an author," says Dr. 
W. L. Alexander, in his Christ and Christianity, " feel himself at liberty to deal in gen- 
eral allusions to other writings, and, instead of formally citing them, to invigorate his 
own style, or point his own sentences, by a few words borrowed from them, or a passing 
hint at something they contain? Is it not when he may safely take for granted the 
familiarity of his readers with the authors he thus passingly lauds? and does not this fea- 
ture in the writings of any author invariably prompt the inference, that he has assumed 
the fact of such familiarity? .... What confirms this inference is, that exactly in the 
same way of general allusion and partial citation do these Apostolic Fathers frequently 
make use of the writings of the Old Testament and of the Epistles of the New." 

It is true, that with the exception of what Papias affirms concerning the authorship 
of the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, and with the exception of the dii;ect appeals 
to Paul's Epistles to the Corinthians, Ephesians, and Philippians, by Clement, Ignatius, 
and Polycarp, the Apostolical Fathers bear no formal testimony of the existence of the 
canonical books of the New Testament; but their indirect testimony is sufficiently 
strong to satisfy every reasonable demand, and it is even of more value than a direct 
one would be, inasmuch as it is beyond all suspicion of design. How fully it accords 
with the very nature of their position is very clearly set forth by Westcott, in his excel- 
lent work on the Canon of the New Testament, from which we shall draw most of what 
we have to say in this whole chapter. 

"That the Aj>ostolical Fathers," he says, "do not appeal to the Apostolic Writings 
more frequently and more distinctly, springs from the very nature of their position. 
Those who had heard the living voice of apostles were unlikely to appeal to their written 
words. It is an instinct which always makes us prefer any personal connection to the 
more remote relationship of books. Thus Papias tells us that he sought to learn, from 
every quarter, the traditions of those who had conversed with the elders, thinking that 
he should not profit so much by the narratives of books as by the living and abiding 
voice of the Lord's disciples. So, again, Irenseus in earnest language tells with what 
joy he listened to the words of Polycarp, when he told of his intercourse with those who 
had seen the Lord; and how those who had been with Christ spoke of his mighty works 
and teachings." 

With regard to the references of the Fathers to the books of the New Testament, in 
general, Westcott remarks: "The words of Scripture are inwrought into the texture of 
the books, and not parceled out into formal quotations. They are not arranged with 
argumentative effect, but used as the natural expression of Christian truths. Now, this 
use of the Holy Scripture shows at least that they were even then widely known, and so 
guarded by a host of witnesses — that their language was transferred into the common 
dialect — that it was as familiar to those first Christians as to us, who use it as uncon- 
sciously as they did in writing or conversation. If the quotations of the Old Testament 
in the Apostolic Fathers were uniformly explicit and exact, this mode of argument 
would lose much of its force. With the exception of Barnabas, it does not appear that 
they have made a single reference by name to any one of the books of the Old Testa- 
ment. Clement uses the general formula, 'It is written,' or, even more frequently, 'God 
saith,' or, simply, 'One saith.' The two quotations from the Old Testament in Ignatius 
are simply preceded by 'It is written.' Exactness of quotation was foreign to the spirit 
of their writinff." 



30 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



Respecting the coincidences between the Apostolic Fathers and the canonical Gospels, 
in particular, Mr. Westcott says: "From the nature of the case, casual coincidences of 
language can not be brought forward in the same manner to prove the use of a history 
as of a letter. The same facts and words, especially if they be recent and striking, may 
be preserved in several narratives. Eeferences in the sub-apostolic age to the discourses 
or actions of our Lord, as we find them recorded in the Gospels, show that what they 
relate was then so far held to be true ; but it does not necessarily follow that they were 
already in use, and the precise source of the passage in question. On the contrary, the 
mode in which Clement refers to our Lord's teaching, 'the Lord said,' not 'saith,' seems 
to imply that he referred to tradition, and not to any written accounts, for words most 
closely resembling those which are still found in our Gospels. The testimony of the 
Apostolic Fathers is to the substance, and not to the authenticity of the Gospels. And 
in this respect they have an important work to do. They witness that the great outlines 
of the life and teachings of our Lord were familiarly known to all from the first: they 
prove that Christianity rests truly on a historic basis. The 'Gospel' which the Fathers 
announce includes all the articles of the ancient creeds. 'Christ,' we read, 'our God, the 
eternal Word, the Lord and Creator of the world, who was with the Father before time 
began, at the end humbled himself, and came down from heaven, and was manifested in 
the flesh, and was born of the Virgin Mary, of the race of David, according to the flesh; 
and a star of exceeding brightness appeared at his birth. Afterward, he was baptized 
by John, to fulfill all righteousness; and then, speaking his Father's message, he invited 
not the righteous, but sinners, to come to him. At length, under Herod and Pontius 
Pilate, he was crucified, and vinegar and gall was offered him to drink. But on the first 
day of the week he rose from the dead, the first-fruits of the grave; and many prophets 
were raised by him for whom they had Avaited. After his resurrection he ate with his 
disciples, and showed them that he was not an incorporeal spirit. And he ascended into 
heaven, and sat down on the right hand of the Father, and thence he shall come to 
judge the quick and the dead.' Such, in their own words, is the testimony of the earliest' 
Fathers to the life of the Savior. Pound these facts their doctrines are grouped; on the 
truth of the incarnation, and the passion, and the resurrection of Christ, their hopes 
were grounded." 

Mr. Westcott, in conclusion, makes the following remarks on the age of the Apostolic 
Fathers : " If the extent of the evidence of the Apostolic Fathers to the books of the New 
Testament is exactly what might be expected from men who had seen the Apostles, who 
had heard them, and who had treasured up their writings as the genuine records of their 
teaching, the character of their evidence is equally in accordance with their peculiar 
position. It will be readily seen that we can not expect to find the New Testament 
quoted in the first age as authoritative, in the same manner as the Old Testament. 
There could not, indeed, be any occasion for an appeal to the testimony of the Gospels, 
when the history of the faith was still within the memory of many; and most of the 
epistles were of little use in controversy, for the earliest heretics denied the apostleship 
of St. Paul. The Old Testament, on the contrary, was common ground; and the ancient 
system of Biblical interpretation furnished the Christian with ready arms. When these 
failed it was enough for him to appeal to the death and resurrection of Christ, which 

were at once the sum and the proof of his faith The successors of the 

apostles did not, we admit, recognize that the written histories of the Lord, and the 
scattered epistles of his first disciples, would form a sure and sufficient source and test 
of doctrine, when the current tradition had grown indistinct or corrupt. Conscious of 
a life in the Christian body, and realizing the power of its Head, as later ages can not 
do, they did not feel that the apostles were providentially charged to express once for 
all in their writings the essential forms of Christianity, even as the prophets had fore- 
shadowed them But they had certainly an indistinct sense that their work 



THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 31 

was essentially different from that of their predecessors. They attributed to them 
power and wisdom to which they themselves made no claim. Each one of those teach- 
ers, who stood nearest to the writers of the New Testament, plainly contrasted his writ- 
ings with theirs, and definitely placed himself on a lower level." 

The direct testimony of Papias to the authorship of the Gospels of Matthew and 
Mark is as follows: "Now, Matthew composed the oracles in Hebrew, and each one 
interpreted them as he was able. Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote 
accurately whatever he remembered, though he did not (record) in order that which was 
either said or done by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him ; but 
subsequently, as I said, (attached himself to) Peter, who used to frame his teaching 
to meet the (immediate) wants (of his hearers); and not as making a connected narration 
of the Lord's discourses. So Mark committed no error, as he wrote down some particu- 
lars just as he recalled them to mind. For he took heed to one thing — to omit none of 
the facts that he heard, and to state nothing falsely in (his narrative of) them." (Euseb. 
H. E.) The opinions are divided on the question, whether Papias was really a disciple of 
the apostle John, or only of a certain John the Presbyter, whom he calls a disciple of our 
Lord. We shall examine this question and the testimony of Papias in the special Intro- 
duction to the Gospel of Matthew, inasmuch as it is connected with other questions, 
while the authenticity of all the four Gospels can be proved independently of the testi- 
mony of Papias. 

§ 9. The Testimony of the Fathers in the Sub-Apostolic Age, from A. D. 120-170. 

In this age the Church had to maintain its ground amid systematic persecution, 
organized heresies, and philosophic controversy. The apostolic tradition was insufficient 
to silence or condemn false teachers who had been trained in the schools of Athens or 
Alexandria, but new champions were raised up to meet the emergency; and some of 
these did not scruple to maintain the doctrines of Christianity in the garb of philoso- 
phers. As Christianity was shown to be the true completion of Judaism before the 
Church was divided from the Synagogue, so it was well that it should be clearly set forth 
as the center to which old philosophers converged before it was declared to supersede 
them. This, then, was one great work of the time, that apologists should proclaim 
Christianity to be the Divine answer to the questionings of heathendom, as well as the 
antitype to the law and to the hope of the prophets. To a great extent the task was 
independent of the direct use of Scripture. Those who discharged it had to deal not so 
much with the words as with the thoughts of the apostles, not so much with the records 
as with the facts of Christ's life. Even the later apologists abstained from quoting Scrip- 
ture in their addresses to heathens ; and the practice was still more alien from the object 
and position of the earliest. The arguments of philosophy and history were brought 
forward first, that men might be better prepared for the light of revelation. The litera- 
ture of this age included almost every form of prose composition — letters, chronicles, 
essays, apologies, visions, tales ; but although it was thus varied, the fragments of it 
which are left scarcely do more than witness to its extent. Omitting what can be gath- 
ered from the scanty fragments of the Athenian Apologists, Quadratus and Aristides, 
from the letter to Diognetus, from the Jewish Apologists, from Dionysius, Hernias, Hege- 
sippus, etc., we will confine ourselves to the all-sufficient testimony of Justin Martyr, to 
whom the first rank must be assigned among the apologetical writers of the second cen- 
tury. He was of Greek descent, but his family had been settled for two generations in 
the Eoman colony of Flavia Neapolis, near the site of the ancient Sichem, where he Avas 
born at the close of the first century. He died as martyr in the year 166. After he had, 
as a heathen, successively sought after truth in the various philosophical systems, he 
became, in the thirtieth year of his life, a convert to Christianity, which, while continu- 



32 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



ing to wear his philosopher's cloak, he enthusiastically defended by writings and 
discussions. 

Eusebius has given a list of such books of his as had come to his own knowledge. 
Of the writings which bear his name now, two, Apologies and the Dialogue with Trypho, 
are genuine beyond all doubt. They exhibit a mass of references to the Gospel narra- 
tives. The first thing that must strike any one who examines a complete collection of the 
passages in question is the general coincidence in range and contents with our Gospels. 
Nothing, for instance, furnished wider scope for apocryphal narratives than the history 
of the infancy of our Lord ; yet Justin's account of the infancy is as free from legendary 
admixture as it is full of incidents recorded by the Evangelists. He does not appear 
to have known any thing more than they knew. The style and language of the quota- 
tions which he makes from Christ's teaching agree no less exactly with those of the 
Evangelist. He quotes frequently from memory; he interweaves the words which we 
find separately given by Matthew, Mark, and Luke; he condenses, combines, trans- 
poses the language of our Lord as they have recorded it; he makes use of phrases 
characteristic of different Gospels; yet, with very few exceptions, he preserves through 
all these changes the marked peculiarities of the New Testament phraseology, without 
the admixture of any foreign element. We have observed that the quotations from the 
Gospel history in the early Fathers are almost uniformly anonymoiis; the words of 
Christ were as a living voice in the Church, apart from any written record. Justin like- 
wise habitually represents Christ as speaking, and not the Evangelist as relating, his dis- 
courses; but he is the first who distinctly refers to what he calls "The Memoirs of the 
Apostles," in which he found written "all things concerning Jesus Christ." 

The peculiar objects which he had in view in his extant writings did not suggest 
even if they did not exclude, any minute description of these records. It would have 
added nothing to the vivid picture of Christianity which he drew for the heathen to have 
quoted with exact precision the testimony of this or that apostle, even if such a mode of 
quotation had been usual. One thing they might require to know, and that he tells them 
that the words of Christ were still the text of Christian instruction, that the "Memoirs 
of the Apostles" were still read, together with the writings of the prophets, in their 
weekly services, (Ap., i, 87.) So, on the other hand, the great difficulty in a controversy 
with a Jew was to show that the humiliation and death of Christ were reconcilable with 
the Messianic prophecies. The chief facts were here confessed; and in other points it 
was enough for the apologist to assert, generally, that the Memoirs which he quoted 
rested upon apostolic authority, (Dial., c. 103.) The manner in which Justin alludes to 
the Memoirs of the Apostles in his first Apology, and in his Dialogue with Trypho, 
confirms what has just been said. If his mode of reference were not modified by the 
nature of his subject, it would surely have been the same in both. As it is, there is 
a marked difference, and exactly such as might have been expected. In the Apology, 
which contains nearly fifty allusions to the Gospel history, he speaks only twice of the 
apostolic authorship of his Memoirs, and in one other place mentions them generally, 
(Ap., i, 8G; 87; 33.) In the Dialogue, which contains about seventy allusions, he quotes 
them ten times as "the Memoirs of the Apostles," and in five other places as "the 
Memoirs." 

This difference is still more striking if examined closely. Every quotation of our 
Lord's words in the Apology is simply introduced by the phrases, "Thus Christ said," or 
"taught," or "exhorted." His words were their own witness. For the public events of 
his life Justin refers to the Em-ollment of Quirinius, and the Acts of Pilate. He quotes 
the "Gospels" only when he must speak of things beyond the range of common history. 
Standing before a Roman emperor as the apologist of the Christians, he confines himself, 
as far as possible, to common ground; and if he is compelled for illustration to quote the 
books of the Christians, he takes care to show that they were recognized by the Church, 



THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 



and no private documents of his own. Thus, in speaking of the Annunciation, he says: 
"And the angel of God, sent to the Virgin at that season, announced to her glad tidings, 
saying, Behold thou shalt conceive of the Holy Spirit, and bear a son, and he shall be 
called the Son of the Highest; and thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his 
people from their sins, as those who have Avritten memoirs of all things concerning our 
Savior Jesus Christ taught us, whom we believed, since also the prophetic Spirit said that 
this would come to pass." (Ap., i, 33.) So, again, when explaining the celebration of 
the Eucharist, he adds : " The apostles, in the Memoirs made by them, which are called 
Gospels, have handed down that it was thus enjoined on them." (Ap., i, 66.) And once 
more, when describing the Christian service, he notices that "the Memoirs of the Apos- 
tles, or the writings of the prophets, are read as long as the time admits." (Ap., i, 67.) 

There is no further mention of the Memoirs in the Apology. In the Dialogue the 
case was somewhat different. Trypho was himself acquainted with the Gospel, (Dial., c. 
10,) and Justin's language becomes proportionally more exact. The words of our Lord 
are still quoted very often, simply as His words, without any acknowledgment of a writ- 
ten record ; but from time to time, when reference is made to words of more special 
moment, so to speak, it is added that they are so " written in the Gospel." In one pas- 
sage the contrast between the substance of Christ's teaching and the record of it is 
brought out? very clearly. After speaking of the death of John the Baptist, Justin adds : 
"Wherefore also our Christ when on earth told those who said that Blias must come 
before Christ: 'Elias indeed will come, and will restore all things; but I say to you that 
Elias has come already, and they knew him not, but did to him whatsoever they listed.' 
And it is written, ' Then understood the disciples that he spake to them concerning John 
the Baptist.' " (Dial., c. 49 ; Matt, xvii, 13.) In another place it appears that Justin 
refers particularly to one out of the Memoirs. " The mention of the fact," he says, 
" that Christ changed the name of Peter, one of the apostles, and that the event has been 
written in his (Peter's) Memoirs, together with His having changed the name of two 
other brethren, who were sons of Zebedee, to that of Boanerges, tended to signify that 
He was the same through whom the surname Israel was given to Jacob, and Joshua to 
Hoshoa." (Dial., c. 106 ; Mark iii, 16, 17.) ISTow, the surname given to James and John is 
only found at present in one of our Gospels, and there it is mentioned in immediate con- 
nection with the change of Peter's name. That Gospel is the Gospel of Mark, which, 
by the universal voice of antiquity, was referred to the authority of Peter. That 
Justin found in his Memoirs facts at present peculiar to Luke's narrative, is equally 
clear. "And Jesus, as he gave up his spirit upon the cross," he writes, "said, Eather, 
into thy hands I commend my spirit, as I learned from the Memoirs." 

But this is not all : in his Apology, Justin speaks of the Memoirs generally as written 
by the apostles. In the Dialogue his words are more precise : " In the Memoirs, which I 
say were composed by the apostles and those who followed them, [it is written] that 
sweat as drops (of blood) streamed down (from Jesus), as He was praying and saying, 
Let this cup, if it be possible, pass away from me." The description, it will be seen, 
precedes the quotation of a passage found in Luke, the follower of an apostle, and not 
an apostle himself. Some such fact as this is needed to explain why Justin dis 
tinguishes at this particular time the authorship of the records which he used. And 
no short account would apply more exactly to our present Gospels than that which 
he gives. Two of them were written by apostles, two by their followers. There were 
many apocryphal gospels, but it is not known that any one of them bore the name 
of a follower of the apostles. The application of Justin's words to our Gospels seems 
indeed absolutely necessary when they are compared with those of Tertullian, who 
says, (Adv. Marcion, iv, 2:) "We lay down as a principle, first, that the Evangelic 
Instrument has apostles for its authors, on whom this charge of publishing the Gospel 
was imposed by the Lord himself: that if [it includes the writings of] apostolic 



Si GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



men also, still they were not alone, but [wrote] with [the help of] apostles and after 
[the teachings of] apostles In fine, John and Matthew out of the num- 
ber of the apostles implant faith in us, Luke and Mark out of the number of their 
followers refresh it." This, then, is the sum of what Justin says of the Memoirs 
of the apostles. They were many, and yet one : they were called gospels : they con- 
tained a record of all things concerning Jesus Christ : they were admitted by Christians 
generally : they were read in their public services : they were of apostolic authority, 
though not exclusively of apostolic authorship : they were composed in part by apostles, 
and in part by their followers. And further than this, we gather that they related facts 
only mentioned at present by one or other of the Evangelists : that thus they were inti- 
mately connected with each one of the synoptic Gospels: that they contained nothing, 
as far as Justin expressly quotes them, which our Gospels do not now substantially 
contain. Up to this point of our inquiry the identification of his Memoirs with our 
Gospels seems to be as reasonable as it is natural. But on the other hand, it is said that 
there are objections to this identification ; namely, that Justin no where mentions the 
Evangelists by name : that the text of his quotations differs materially from that of the 
Gospels : that he introduces apocryphal additions into his narrative. And each of these 
statements must be examined before the right weight can be assigned to these general 
coincidences between the books in subject, language, and character of which we have 
hitherto spoken. 

It has been already shown that there were peculiar circumstances in Justin's case 
which rendered any definite quotation of the Evangelists unlikely and unsuitable, even 
if such a mode of quotation had been common at the time. But in fact, when he referred 
to written records of Christ's life and words he made an advance beyond which the later 
Apologists rarely jn-oceeded. Tatian, his scholar, has several allusions to passages con- 
tained in the Gospels of Matthew and John, but they are all anonymous. Athenagoras 
quotes the words of our Lord, as they stand in Matthew, four times, and appears to 
allude to passages in Mark and John, but he no where mentions the name of an Evangel- 
ist. Theophilus, in his books to Autolycus, cites five or six precepts from "the Gospel," 
or the " Evangelic Voice," and once only mentions John as " a man moved by the Holy 
Spirit," quoting the prologue to his Gospel ; though he elsewhere classes the Evangelists 
with the prophets as all inspired by the same Spirit. In Hermias and Minucius Felix 
there appears to be no reference at all to the Gospels. The usage of Tertullian is very 
remarkable. In his other books he quotes the Gospels continually, and, though rarely, 
mentions every Evangelist by name ; but in his Apology, while he gives a general view 
of Christ's life and teaching, and speaks of the Scriptures as the food and the comfort 
of the Christian, he no where cites the Gospels, and scarcely exhibits any coincidence of 
language with them. Clement of Alexandria, as is well known, investigated the relation 
of the synoptic Gospels to that of John, and his use of the words of Scripture is constant 
and extensive ; and yet in his " Exhortation to Gentiles," while he quotes every Gospel, 
and all, except Mark, repeatedly, he only mentions John by name, and that but once. 
(Protrep., § 59.) Cyprian, in his address to Demetrian, quotes words of our Lord as "given 
by Matthew and John, but says nothing of the source from which he derived them. At a 
still later time Lactantius blamed Cyprian for quoting Scripture in a controversy with a 
heathen ; and though he shows in his Institutions an intimate acquaintance with the 
writings of the Evangelists, he mentions John only by name, quoting the beginning of his 
Gospel. Arnobius, again, makes no allusion to the Gospels ; and Eusebius, to whose zeal 
we owe most of what is known of the history of the New Testament, though he quotes 
the Gospels eighteen times in his " Introduction to Christian Evidences," (Prseparatio 
Evangelica,) yet always does so without referring to the Evangelist of whose writings he 
made use. 

It has been further objected, that Justin's citations differ considerably from the 



THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 35 

corresponding passages in the Gospels. But they differ simply from his having sometimes 
comhined two passages from different Gospels into one, or from his having given the 
substance of the passage rather than the exact words; for both of which practices he has 
the example of the apostle Paul in his citations from the Old Testament. Such modes of 
dealing with books are common to writers of all ages; and, as Justin exhibits the same 
practice in reference to the Old Testament, and to profane writers, it is groundless to 
urge the trifling discrepancies which exist between his quotations and the received text 
of the Evangelists as any evidence that it was not from them he quoted.* 

The last — and, if it could be substantiated, the most weighty — objection to our identi- 
fying Justin's Memoirs of the Apostles with our four Gospels is the allegation, that he 
introduced apocryphal additions into his narrative. Some of his quotations, it is said, 
exhibit coincidences with fragments of heretical gospels. That quotations made by 
memory from the written Gospels should exhibit some points of partial resemblance 
to apocryphal gospels is very natural. For these apocryphal gospels were not mere cre- 
ations of the imagination, but narratives based on the original oral Gospel, of which the 
written Gospel was the authoritative record. The same cause might, therefore, very natu- 
rally lead to the introduction of a common word, a characteristic phrase, or a supplement- 
ary trait. But it is further objected that Justin's quotations differ not only in language, 
but also in substance, from our Gospels; that he attributes sayings to our Lord which 
they do not contain, and narrates events which are either not mentioned by the Evan- 
gelists, or recorded by them with serious variations from his account. It is enough to 
answer, that he never does so when he proposes to quote the Apostolic Memoirs. Like 
other early Fathers, he was familiar by tradition with the words of our Lord which are 
not embodied in the Gospel. Like them, he may have been acquainted with details of 
His life treasured up by such as the Elder of Ephesus, who might have heard John. 
But whatever use he makes of this knowledge, he never refers to the Apostolic Memoirs 
for any thing which is not substantially found in our Gospels. 

Justin's account of the baptism, which might seem an exception to this statement, 
really confirms and explains it. It is well known that there was a belief long current, 
that the heavenly voice addressed our Lord in the words of the Psalm, which have ever 
been applied to him: "Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." Augustine 
mentions the reading as current in his time; and the words are found at present in the 
Cambridge MS., (D,) and in the old Latin version. Justin might then have found them 
in the MS. of Luke, which he used; but the form of his reference is remarkable. When 
speaking of the temptation he says: "For the devil, of whom I just now spoke, as soon as 
he [Christ] went up from the Eiver Jordan, — when the voice had been addressed to him, 
'Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee,' — is described in the Memoirs of the 
Apostles as having come to him and tempted him, so far as to say to him, Worship me." 
The definite quotation is of that which is confessedly a part of the Evangelic text; it is 
evident, from the construction of the sentence, that Justin gives no authority for the dis- 
puted clause. 

This apparent mixture of two narratives is still more remarkable in the mode in 
which Justin introduces the famous legend of the fire kindled in Jordan when Christ 
descended into the water: "When Jesus came to the Jordan, where John was baptizing, 
when he descended to the water, both a fire was kindled in the Jordan, and the apostles 
of Christ himself recorded that the Holy (Spirit as a dove lighted upon him." Here the 
contrast is complete. The witness of the apostles is claimed for that which our Gospels 
relate; but Justin affirms, on his own authority, a fact which, however significant in the 
symbolism of the East, is yet without any support from the canonical history. 

*A11 the quotations of Justin have heen subjected to a thorough critical examination by Mr. Westcott in 
his "Canon," a work not published in this country, to which we are indebted for all our historical testimonies. 



36 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



Justin lived at the period of transition from a traditional to a written Gospel, and Lis 
testimony is exactly fitted to the position which he held. He refers to hooks, hut more 
frequently he appears to bring forward words which were currently circulated rather 
than what he had privately read. In both respects his witness to our Gospels is most 
important. For it has been shown that his definite quotations from the Memoirs are so 
exactly accordant with the text of the Synoptists, as it stands now, or as it was read at 
the close of the second century, that there can be no doubt that he was familiar with 
their writings as well as with the contents of them. And the wide and minute agree- 
ment of what he says of the life and teaching of our Lord with what they record of 
it, proves that his knowledge of the Gospel history was derived from a tradition they 
had molded and controlled, if not from the habitual and exclusive use of the books 
themselves. 

He states that the Memoirs of the Apostles were read in the weekly services of the 
Church on the same footing as the writings of the prophets ; or, in other words, that they 
enjoyed the rank of Scripture. And since he speaks of their ecclesiastical use without 
any restriction, it is natural to believe that he alludes to definite books which were 
generally held in such esteem, and had acquired a firm place in the common life of Chris- 
tians. He could not at any rate have been ignorant of the custom of the Churches of 
Italy and Asia ; and if his description were true of any it must have been true of those. 
Is it then possible to suppose, that within twenty or thirty years after his death, these 
Gospels should have been replaced by others similar and yet distinct? that he should 
speak of one set of books, as if they were permanently incorporated into the Christian 
services, and that those who might have been his scholars should speak exactly in 
the same terms of another collection, as if they had had no rivals within the orthodox 
j>ale? that the substitution should have been effected in such a manner that no record 
of it has been preserved, while smaller analogous reforms have been duly chronicled ? 
The complication of historical difficulties is overwhelming ; and the alternative is that 
which has already been justified on critical grounds, the belief that when Justin spoke 
of apostolic memoirs or gospels, he meant the Gospels which were enumerated in the 
early anonymous canon, and whose mutual relations were eloquently expounded by 
Irenasus. 

This, then, appears to be established, both by external and internal evidence, that 
Justin's "gospels" can be identified with those of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. His 
references to John are uncertain ; but this, as has been already remarked, follows from 
the character of the fourth Gospel. It was unlikely that he should quote its -peculiar 
teaching in apologetic writings addressed to Jews and heathen ; and at the same time he 
exhibits types of language and doctrine which, if not immediately drawn from John, yet 
mark the presence of his influence and the recognition of his authority. 

In addition to the Gospels, the Apocalypse is the only book of the New Testament to 
which Justin alludes by name. Even that is not quoted, but appealed to generally, as a 
proof of the existence of prophetic power in the Christian Church. But it can not be 
concluded from his silence that Justin was either unacquainted with the Acts and ~the 
Epistles, or unwilling to make use of them. His controversy against Marcion is decisive 
as to his knowledge of the greater part of the books, and various Pauline forms of ex- 
pression and teaching show that the apostle of the Gentiles had helped to mold his 
faith and words. 

§10. The Formation of a Canon of the Universally Acknowledged Books of 
the New Testament at the Close of the Second Century. 

The Latin fragment on the Canon, first published by Muratori, was discovered in the 
Ambrosian Library at Milan in a MS. of great antiquity, which purported to contain 



THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORD. 



the writings of Chrysostom. It is mutilated both at the beginning and end ; and is dis- 
figured throughout by gross inaccuracies and barbarisms, due in part to the ignorance 
of the transcriber, and in part to the translator of the original text; for there can 
be little doubt that it is a version from the Greek. But, notwithstanding these defects, 
it is of the greatest interest and importance. It claims to have been written by a 
cotemporary of Pius, and can not, on that supposition, be placed much later than 
170 A. D. Internal evidence fully confirms its claims to this high antiquity ; and it may 
be regarded, on the whole, as a summary of the opinion of the Western Church on the 
canon shortly after the middle of the second century. The fragment commences with 
the last words of a sentence which evidently referred to the Gospel of Mark. The 
Gospel of Luke, it is then said, stands third in order, (in the Christian canon,) having 
been written by " Luke the physician," the companion of Paul, who, not being an eye- 
witness, based his narrative on such information as he could obtain, beginning from the 
birth of John. The fourth place is given to the Gospel of John. Though there is no 
trace of any reference to Matthew, it is impossible not to believe that it occupied the first 
place among the four Gospels of the anonymous Avriter. Assuming this, it is of import- 
ance to notice that he regards our canonical Gospels as essentially one in purpose, con- 
tents, and inspiration. He draws no distinction between those which were written from 
personal knowledge, and those which rested on the teaching of others. He alludes to no 
doubt as to their authority, no limit as to their reception, no difference as to their useful- 
ness. " Though various points are taught in each of the Gospels, it makes no difference 
to the faith of believers, since, in all of them, all things are declared by one informing 
Spirit concerning the nativity, the passion, the resurrection, the conversation [of our 
Lord] with his disciples, and His double advent, at first in humility, and afterward in 
royal power as He will yet appear." This first recognition of the distinctness and unity 
of the Gospels, of their origin from human care and Divine guidance, is as complete as 
any later testimony. The Fragment lends no support to the theory which supposes that 
they were gradually separated from the mass of similar books. Their peculiar position 
is clear and marked ; and there is not the slightest hint that it was gained after a doubt- 
ful struggle or only at a late date. Admit that our Gospels were regarded from the first 
as authoritative, records of Christ's life, and then this new testimony explains and con- 
firms the fragmentary notices which alone witness to the earlier belief; deny it, and the 
language of one who had probably conversed with Polycarp at Eome becomes an unin- 
telligible riddle. 

Irenseus was the disciple of Polycarp. About the year 177 he succeeded Photinus, who 
suffered martyrdom in his ninetieth year, in the bishopric of Lyons. He himself died 
as a martyr about 202 A. D. In his old age he recalled the teaching of Polycarp. the 
disciple of John, and his treatise against heresies contains several references to others 
who were closely connected with the apostolic age. He says: "jSTow, Matthew published 
his treatise on the Gospel among the Hebrews, in their own dialect, while Peter and 
Paul were preaching in Eome, and founding the Church there. But after their death, 
Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, also wrote 'down what Peter had preached, 
and delivered it to us. And Luke also, the follower of Paul, wrote out in a book the 
Gospel which was preached by that apostle. Afterward John, the disciple of the Lord, 
who also leaned upon his breast, he, too, published a Gospel while he was living at 
Ephesus, in Asia." (Adv. Hseres., iii,l.) And again: "These things are in accordance 
with the Gospels, in which Christ is enshrined. For that of John relates his princely 
birth and glorious lineage from the Father, saying, 'In the beginning was the Word,' etc. 
And that of Luke, as being more of a sacerdotal character, begins with the priest Zach- 

arias burning incense to God Matthew declares his human birth, saying, 

' The book of the generation of Jesus Christ,' etc. Mark, as partaking more of the 
prophetic spirit, begins by saying, ' The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,' " etc. 



38 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



(lb., iii, 11, § 11.) He speaks of the Scriptures as a whole, without distinction of the Old 
or New Testaments, as " perfect, inasmuch as they were uttered by the Word of God and 
his Spirit." (Adv. Hajr., ii, 28, 2.) Though he has not given us a professed catalogue of 
the books of the New Testament, we learn from his treatise that he received, as authentic 
and canonical Scriptures, not only the four Gospels, but also the Acts of the Apostles, 
the Epistle to the Eomans, the Epistles to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and 
Colossians, the First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians, the two Epistles to Timo- 
thy, the Epistle to Titus, the two Epistles of Peter, and the First and Second Epistles 
of John. Can it be supposed, with reason, that forgeries came into use in the time of 
Irenseus, which he must have been able to detect by his own knowledge? that they were 
received without suspicion or reserve in the Church over which he presided ? Is it pos- 
sible that he decided otherwise than his first master, when he speaks of the tradition of 
the apostles by which the canon of the Scripture was determined ? (Adv. Hser., iv, 33, 8.) 
He appeals to the known succession of teachers in the churches of Rome, Smyrna, and 
Ephesus, who held fast, up to his own time, the doctrine which they had received from 
the first age ; and is it possible that he used writings, as authentic and authoritative, 
which were not recognized by those who must have had unquestionable means of decid- 
ing on their apostolic origin ? 

A cotemporary of Irenteus was Clement of Alexandria; he was trained in the school 
of Pantamus, who was personally connected with some immediate disciples of the apos- 
tles. He distinguishes the Gospel from the other writings of the New Testament, which 
he calls 6 a-oarokoi;, and sometimes aTtoaroXut, but combines them "as Scriptures of the 
Lord," with the Law and the Prophets, and as "ratified by the authority of one 
Almighty Power." 

Tertullian, a presbyter of the Church of Carthage, was born 160, and died about the 
year 220. He became a Montanist about the year 200. But his testimony to the 
authority of the canonical Scriptures is exactly the same before and after he embraced 
the tenets of Montanus. He uniformly recognizes the four Gospels as written by the 
Evangelists to whom we ascribe them; distinguishing Matthew and John as apostles, 
and Mark and Luke as apostolical men, and asserting the authority of their writings as 
inspired books, acknowledged by the Christian Church from their original date. (Adv. 
Marcion, I, c. iv, 2.) He notices particularly the introduction of the word Testament for 
the earlier word "Instrument" as applied to the dispensation and the record, (Adv. Marc. 
IV, 1,) and appeals to the New Testament, as made up of "the Gospels" and "Apostles." 
(Adv. Prax., 15.) This comprehensive testimony extends to the four Gospels, the Acts, 
1 Peter, 1 John, thirteen Epi sties of Paul, and the Apocalypse. 

All the Fathers, at the close of the second century, from opposite quarters of Chris- 
tendom, agree in appealing to the testimony of antiquity as proving the authenticity of 
the Gospels, and other books which they iised as Christian Scriptures. The appeal was 
made at a time when it was easy to try its worth. The links which connected them 
with the apostolic age were few and well known ; and, if they had not been continuous, 
it would have been easy to expose the break. But their appeal was never gainsayed. 
We need, therefore, not descend to later testimonies. 

Let us, in conclusion, bear in mind that the admitted universal reception of the Gos- 
pels, toward the close of the second century, conveys to us the testimony of a communion 
not only fully qualified to arrive at a sound judgment on the authenticity of the Gospels, 
but also deeply interested in ascertaining the truth upon the question at issue, inasmuch 
as the early Christians, by believing the Gospels to be the authentic productions of the 
men whose names they bear, exposed themselves to the fiercest persecutions — from 
which it follows that they must have come to them with an evidence of their authen- 
ticity such as could not be gainsayed. 



THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 39 



§ 11. The Eakly Versions of the New Testament. 

Two versions only claim to be noticed in this first period — the original versions of 
the East and West— the Peshito, and the old Latin, which, though variously revised, 
remain, after sixteen centuries, the authorized liturgical versions of the Syrian and 
Boman Churches. 

THE PESHITO. 

Almost universal opinion assigns the Peshito, or "simple" Syriac, (Aramaic,) version 
to the most remote Christian antiquity. The Syriac Christians of Malabar even now 
claim for it the right to be considered as an Eastern original of the New Testament; and 
though their tradition is wholly unsupported by external evidence, it is not, to a certain 
extent, without all plausibility. The dialect of the Peshito, even as it stands now, repre- 
sents in part, at least, that form of Aramaic which was current in Palestine. In this 
respect it is bike the Latin Tulgate, which, though revised, is marked by the provincial- 
isms of Africa. Both versions appear to have had their origin in districts where their 
languages were spoken in impure dialects, and afterward to have been corrected and 
brought nearer to the classical standard. In the absence of an adequate supply of critical 
materials it is impossible to construct the history of these recensions in the Syriac; the 
analogy of the Latin is at present our only guide. But if a conjecture be allowed, I 
think that the various facts of the case are adequately explained by supposing that ver- 
sions of separate books of the New Testament were first made and used in Palestine, 
perhaps within the apostolic age, and that shortly afterward these were collected, revised, 
and completed at Edessa. Many circumstances combine to give support to this belief. 
The early condition of the Syrian Church, its wide extent and active vigor, lead us to 
expect that a version of the Holy Scriptures into the common dialect could not have 
been long deferred ; and the existence of an Aramaic Gospel was in itself likely to suggest 
the work. Differences of style, no less than the very nature of the case, point to sepa- 
rate translations of different books; and, at the same time, a certain general uniformity 
of character bespeaks some subsequent revision. Whatever may be thought of the 
alleged intercourse of Abgarus with our blessed Lord, Edessa itself is signalized in early 
Church history by many remarkable facts. It was called the "holy" and "blessed" city, 
(Horse Syriaca?;) its inhabitants were said to have been brought over by Thaddeus, in a 
marvelous manner, to the Christian faith; and, "from that time forth," Eusebius adds, 
(Euseb., H. E., ii, 1,) "the whole people of Edessa has continued to be devoted to 
the name of Christ, exhibiting no ordinary instance of the goodness of the Savior;" in 
the second century it became the center of an important Christian school, and long after- 
ward retained its pre-eminence among the cities of this province. As might be expected, 
tradition fixes on Edessa as the place whence the Peshito took its rise. Gregory Bar 
Hebrseus, one of the most learned and accurate of Syrian writers, relates that the New 
Testament Peshito Avas "made in the time of Thaddeus, and Abgarus, King of Edessa;" 
when, according to the universal opinion of ancient writers, the apostle went to proclaim 
Christianity in Mesopotamia. No other direct historical evidence remains to determine 
the date of the Peshito; and it is impossible to supply the deficiency by the help of 
quotations occurring in early Syrian writers. No Syrian works of a very early period 
exist. Still it is known that books were soon translated from Syriac into Greek, and 
while such an intercourse existed it is scarcely possible that the Scriptures remained 
untranslated. Again, the controversial writings of Bardesanes necessarily imply the 
existence of a Syriac version of the Bible. Tertullian's example may show that he could 
hardly have refuted Marcion without the constant use of Scripture. And more than this, 
Eusebius tells us that Hegesippus "made quotations from the Gospel according to the 
Hebrews, and the Syriac, and especially from [writings in] the Hebrew language, show- 



40 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



ing thereby that he was a Christian of Hebrew descent." (Euseb., H. E.,iv, 22.) This 
testimony is valuable as coming from the only Greek writer likely to have been familiar 
Avith Syriac literature; and may we not see in the two Gospels thus mentioned two 
recensions of Matthew — the one disfigured by apocryphal traditions, and the one written 
in the dialect of Eastern Syria? Ephrem Syrus, himself a deacon of Edessa, treats the 
version in such a manner as to prove that it was already old in the fourth century. He 
quotes it as a book of established authority, calling it "Our Version;" he speaks of the 
"Translator" as one whose words were familiar, (Horse Syriacas;) and, though the dia- 
lects of the East are proverbially permanent, his explanations show that its language, 
even in his time, had become partially obsolete. Another circumstance serves to exhibit 
the venerable age of this version. It was universally received by the different sects into 
which the Syrian Church was divided in the fourth century, and so has continued current 
even to the present time. The respect in Avhich the Peshito was held was further shown 
by the fact that it was taken as the basis of other versions in the East. An Arabic and 
a Persian version were made from it; but it is more important to notice that, at the com^ 
mencement of the fifth century — before the Council of Ephesus, 431 A. D. — an Armenian 
version was made from the Syriac in the absence of Greek MSS. These indications of 
the antiquity of the Peshito do not, indeed, possess any conclusive authority, but there is 
no sufficient reason to call in question the opinion which has obtained the sanction of the 
most competent scholars, that its formation is to be fixed within the first half of the sec- 
ond century. The text, even in its present corrupt state, exhibits remarkable agreement 
with the most ancient Greek MSS., and the earliest quotations. The very obscurity which 
hangs over its origin is a proof of its venerable age, because it shows that it grew up 
spontaneously among Christian congregations, and was not the result of any public 
labor. Had it been a work of late date, of the third or fourth century, it is scarcely 
possible that its history should have been so uncertain as it is. 

THE OLD LATIN VERSION. 

At first it is natural to look to Italy as the center of the Latin literature of Christian- 
ity, and the original source of that Latin version of the Holy Scriptures which, in a 
later form, has become identified with the Church of Eome, yet, however natural such a 
belief may be, it finds no support in history. Eome itself, under the emperors, was well 
described as a "Greek city;" and Greek was its second language. As far as Ave can learn, 
the mass of the poorer population — every-where the great bulk of the early Christians — ■ 
was Greek, either in descent or in speech. Among the names of the fifteen bishops of 
Eome, up to the close of the second century, four only are Latin ; but in the next century 
the proportion is nearly reversed. When Paul first wrote to the Eoman Church he 
wrote in Greek ; and in the long list of salutation to its members, Avith Avhich the Epistle 
is concluded, only four Latin names occur. Shortly afterward, Clement AAnrote to the 
Corinthians in Greek in the name of the Church of Eome; and at a later date we find 
the bishop of Corinth Avriting in Greek to Soter, the ninth in succession from Clement. 
Justin, Hermas, and Tatian published their Greek treatises at Eome. The Apologies to 
the Eoman emperors Avere in Greek. Modestus, Caius, and Asterius Urbanus bear Latin 
names, yet their Avritings were Greek. MeanAvhile, hoAvever, though Greek continued 
to be the natural, if not the sole language of the Eoman Church, the seeds of Latin 
Christianity were rapidly developing in Africa. Nothing is known in detail of the 
origin of the African Churches. At the close of the second century Christians were 
found in that country in every place and of every rank. They aa t 1io were but of yester- 
day, Tertullian says about the year 200, (Apol., i, 37,) already fill the palace, the senate, 
the forum, and the camp, and leave their temples only to the heathen. To persecute the 
Christians was even then to decimate Carthage. These fresh conquests of the Eoman 



THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 41 

Church preserved their distinct nationality in their language. Carthage — the second 
Eome — escaped the Graecism of the first. In Africa Greek was no longer a current 
dialect, A peculiar form of Latin, vigorous, elastic, and copious, however far removed 
from the grace and eloquence of a classical standard, fitly expressed the spirit of Ter- 
tullian. It is, then, to Africa we must look for the first traces of the Latin " Peshito," 
the "Simple" version of the "West. And here a new difficulty arises. The Syrian 
Peshito has been preserved without material change in the keeping of the Churches for 
whose use it was made. But no Church of Northern Africa, however corrupt, remains to 
testify to its ancient Bible. The version was revised by a foreign scholar, adopted by a 
foreign Church, and in the end its independent existence has been denied. The 
Scriptural quotations of Tertullian, however, give sufficient evidence that he distinctly 
recognized a current Latin version, marked by a peculiar character, and that it was so 
authorized by popular use as to form the theological dialect of the country. "We have no 
means of tracing the history of the version before the time of Tertullian; but its exist- 
ence, then, is also attested by the Latin translation of the writings of Irenaeus. The 
Scriptural quotations which occur in them were evidently taken from some foreign 
source, and not made by the translator. That this source was no other than a recension 
of the Yetus Latina appears from the coincidence of readings which it exhibits with the 
most trustworthy MSS. of the version. In other words, the Yetus Latina is recognized 
in the first Latin literature of the Church. It can be traced back as far as the earliest 
records of Latin Christianity. Every circumstance connected with it indicates the most 
remote antiquity. Now the beginning of Tertullian's literary activity can not be placed 
later than 190 A. D., and we shall thus find the date 170 A. D., as that before which 
the version must have been made. How much more ancient it really is can not yet be 
discovered. Not only is the character of the version itself a proof of its extreme age, 
but the mutual relations of different parts of it show that it was made originally by dif- 
ferent hands ; and if so, that it was coeval with the introduction of Christianity into 
Africa, and the result of the spontaneous efforts of African Christians. The MSS., in 
which the Old Latin Yersion is found, are few, but some of them are of great antiquity. 
In the Gospels Lachman made use of four, of which one belongs to the fourth, and 
another to the fourth or fifth century. To these Teschendorf has since added the Pala- 
tine MS. of the same date, but inclining to the Italian rather than to the African text; 
and besides these he enumerates nine others, more or less perfect, ranging from the fifth 
to the eleventh century, of which two give African readings. 

§ 12. The Testimony op Heretical and Apocryphal Writings. 

Before we inquire into the relation which the heretical and apocryphal writings 
bear to our canonical Gospels, let us take a survey of the heretical sects which arose 
in the first two centuries, and their relation to the great body- of Christians called the 
Catholic Christians, or the Catholic Church. They may be arranged under two great 
principles : " That well-known pharisaical Judaism whose shibboleth was that the Gen- 
tiles should be constrained to observe the ceremonial law, and which continued to attack 
Paul in his missionary labors, produced Ebionism, in the general sense of this term ; the 
desire to amalgamate with Christianity Grecian and Oriental theosophy, and an oppo- 
sition to Judaism, inclusive of the Old Testament, on the part of Gentile philosojmers 
converted to Christianity, introduced Gnosticism. These two directions were, hoAvever, 
also combined into a Gnostic-Ebionism, a system for which the doctrines of the Essenes 
seem to have served as a point of transition and connecting link. This 'opposition of 
science falsely so called' (1 Tim. vi, 20) began to intrude into Christianity during the 
latter years of Paul's labors. Against it Paul uttered a prophetic warning in his faro- 
well address at Miletus. (Acts xx, 29, 30.) Afterward he opposed it in the Epistles to 



42 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



the Ephesians and to the Colossians, and especially in his pastoral letters, even as Peter 
combated it in his First Epistle. It assumed many and varied forms. It appeared in the 
shape of Oriental theosophy, magic, and theurgy, in voluntary asceticism with reference 
to meats and marriage, in fancied mysteries about the nature and subordination of heav- 
enly powers and spirits, and in the transformation of certain fundamental doctrines of 
Christianity (such as that of the resurrection, 2 Tim. ii, 18) into a mere idealism. These 
seeds of evil had already borne abundant fruit when John came to take up his residence 
in Asia Minor. Accordingly, in his First Epistle, the apostle opposed the growing- 
heresy, and more especially that form of Gnosis, in which the incarnation of God in 
Christ was denied." (See Kurtz's Church History, pp. 71 and 72.) 

The Ebionites proper — -as distinguished from the jSTazarenes, who, though they held 
themselves bound still to observe the ceremonial law, believed in the Divinity of Christ, 
and did not reject Paul entirely — deemed the observance of the ceremonial law indis- 
pensably necessary for salvation ; they saw in Jesus nothing but a human Messiah, 
whom, at his baptism, God had endowed with supernatural powers. His Messianic 
activity they limited to his teaching, by which he had enlarged and perfected the law, 
adding to it new and more strict commandments. The death of Christ was an offense to 
them, under which they consoled themselves with the promise of his return, when they 
expected that he would set up a terrestrial kingdom. They, of course, repudiated the 
apostle Paul entirely, and in order to have some basis for their monstrous heresies, they 
mutilated and interpolated the Gospel of Matthew. A similar position to the Gospels was 
taken by the Gnostics. Though their doctrines were as irreconcilable with the contents 
of our Gospels as those of the Ebionites, they did not assail their authenticity, but 
rejected them only as carnal apprehensions of Jesus and his doctrine, while Marcion 
boldly mutilated the Gospel of Luke, and declared this to be the only true Gospel. 
With regard to the evidence the Gnostics give for the authenticity of our Gospels, 
they may be divided into two principal classes : the Theosophic (or Yalentinian) 
Gnostics, and the Marcionites. 

Now, if it can be proved that the theosophic Gnostics appealed to our canonical Gos- 
pels as freely and confidently as did the Catholic Christians, that they did not pretend to 
possess any Gospel, in any way contradictory to the account of Christ's ministry contained 
in our Gospels, and that the Gospel used by the Marcionites was essentially the same 
with that of Luke, we have an argument of uncommon strength in favor of the authen- 
ticity of our Gospels. For these early heretics were, in their opinions and feelings, so 
widely separated from the Catholic Christians, that they present themselves as an inde- 
pendent class of witnesses, and they lived at a time, when, upon the supposition that our 
Gospels were not written by the authors whose names they bear, it must have been very 
easy to them to prove the fact. Could they have rejected the authority of the Gospels 
on this ground, they would certainly have done it. And had they done so, it is altogether 
incredible that the fact should not have been conspicuous throughout the controversial 
writings of Irenasus and Tertullian, the two princijDal writers against the Gnostics. 
From their works it does not appear that the Yalentinians, the Marcionites, or any other 
Gnostic sect, adduced in support of their opinions a single narrative relating to the public 
ministry of Christ, besides what is found in the Gospels, or that any sect appealed to the 
authority of any history of our Lord's ministry besides the Gospels, except so far as the 
Marcionites, in their use of the interpolated and mutilated copy of Luke's Gospel, may 
be regarded as forming a verbal exception. The Fathers were eager to urge against the 
Gnostics the charge of corrupting and perverting the Scriptures, and of fabricating 
apocryphal writings, but they never brought forward the far graver allegation, that the 
Gnostics pretended to set up other histories of Christ in opposition to those received by the 
great body of Christians. Had they been guilty of this, the fact neither would nor could 
have remained unnoticed. On the contrary, Irenseus says : " There is such assurance 



THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 43 

concerning the Gospels, that the heretics themselves bear testimony to them, so that each 
one of them, taking the Gospels as his starting-point, endeavors thereby to maintain his 
own teaching." (Adv. Hser., Ill, xii, 7.) And Tertullian says: " They profess to appeal 
to the Scriptures ; they nrge arguments from the Scriptures — as if they could draw argu- 
ments about matters of faith from any other source than the records of faith." (De 
Pressor. Ha3i\, c. xiv.) He takes in this treatise, moreover, especial pains to prove that 
they had no right at all to appeal to the Scriptures as they do. 

But the question naturally arises, how could the Gnostics defend their strange doctrines, 
and yet appeal to our Gospels? This important question is more fully answered by Mr. 
Norton than by any other writer on this subject. We will, therefore, give to the reader 
the benefit of a brief condensation of his argument: 1. The theosophic Gnostics, in com- 
mon with the Catholic Christians, applied the allegorical mode of interpretation to the 
New Testament. Neglecting the proper meaning of words, they educed from them mys- 
tical senses. Their whole system of interpretation was, besides, arbitrary, and unsup- 
ported by any correct principle. The vocabulary of the theosophic Gnostics, like that 
of other erring sects, consisted, in great part, of words from the JSTew Testament, on 
which they had imposed new senses. It thus became easy for them, on the one hand, to 
find supposed references to their theory; and, on the other, to explain away much that 
was inconsistent with it. Like other false expositors of Scripture, they detached partic- 
ular passages from their connection, and infused a foreign meaning into the words. 
Irenseus, after saying they appealed to unwritten tradition as a source of their knowl- 
edge, goes on to remark, that, "twisting, according to the proverb, a rope of sand, they 
endeavor to accommodate, in a plausible manner to their doctrines, the parables of the 
Lord, the declarations of the prophets, or the words of the apostles, so that their fiction 
may not seem to be without proof. But they neglect the order and connection of the 
Scriptures, and disjoin, so far as they are able, the members of the truth. They trans- 
pose and refashion, and, making one thing out of another, they deceive many by a fabri- 
cated show of the words of the Lord which they put together. (Cont. Iiasres., lib. I, c. 
viii, § 1.) 2. They maintained a principle similar to a fundamental doctrine of the 
Boman Catholics ; namely, that religious truth could not be learned from the Scriptures 
alone, without the aid of the oral instructions of Christ and his apostles, as preserved by 
tradition. "When," says Irenseus, "they are confuted by proofs from the Scriptures, they 
turn and accuse the Scriptures themselves, as if they were not correct, nor of authority; 
they say that they contain contradictions, and that the truth can not be discovered from 
them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For that it was not delivered in writing, 
but orally; whence Paul said, 'We speak wisdom among the perfect, but not the wisdom 
of this world.'" (Lib. Ill, c. ii, § 2.) "The heretics," says Tertullian, "pretend that 
the apostles did not reveal all things to all, but taught some doctrines openly to 
every one, some secretly and to a few only." (De Praescr. Hser., c. xxv.) What was 
peculiar in their own doctrines they regarded as that esoteric teaching which had 
come down to them by oral tradition. This notion of a secret tradition is not found 
in Justin Martyr, Irenseus, or Tertullian. When the two latter speak of tradition, they 
mean that traditionary knowledge of the history and doctrines of Christianity which 
necessarily existed among Christians. It is described by Irenseus as a "tradition mani- 
fest throughout the world, and to be found in every Church." (Lib. Ill, c. iii, § 1.) By 
it, he says, a knowledge of our religion was preserved without books among believers in 
barbarous nations. (Ibid., c. iv, § 2.) At the end of about a century from the preaching 
of the apostles, there must have been, throughout the communities which they had 
formed, a general acquaintance with what they had taught, even had no written records 
of our religion been extant. In regard likewise to facts — important in their reference to 
Christianity, as, for example, the genuineness of the books of the New Testament — the 
Christians of the last half of the second century must have relied on the testimony of 



44 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



their predecessors. It is this traditionary knowledge concerning Christianity — not 
secret, but open to all — which Irenasus and Tertullian appeal to with justifiable confi- 
dence in their reasoning against the heretics, when they distinguish between the evidence 
from tradition and the evidence from Scripture. 3. In connection with their notion of a 
secret tradition, some of the Gnostics said, according to Irenseus, "that the apostles, prac- 
ticing dissimulation, accommodated their doctrine to the capacity of their hearers, and 
their answers to the previous conceptions of those who questioned them, talking blindly 
with the blind, weakly with the weak, and conformably to their error with those who 
were in error; and that thus they preached the Creator to those who thought the Creator 
was the only God, but to those able to comprehend the unknown Father, they communi- 
cated this unspeakable mystery in parables and in enigmas." (Lib. Ill, cap. v, § 1.) 
"Some," says Irenaeus, "impudently contend that the apostles, preaching among the 
Jews, could not announce any other God but him in whom the Jews had believed." (lb., 
cap. xii, § 6.) 4. Some of the Gnostics, especially the Marcionites, maintained that Paul 
Avas far superior to the other apostles in the knowledge of the truth — "the hidden doc- 
trine having been manifested to him by revelation." (Ibid., c. xiii, § 1.) They repre- 
sented the other apostles as having been entangled by Jewish prejudices from which he 
was in great measure free. Marcion regarded the Gospels as expressing the false Jewish 
opinions of their writers. But among the Gospels he conceived that there was ground 
for making a choice; and he selected for his own use, and that of his followers, the 
Gospel of Luke. This he further adapted to his purpose by rejecting from it what he 
viewed as conformed to those opinions. Nor did he consider Paul himself as wholly free 
from Jewish errors, but likewise struck out, from those of his Epistles which he used, 
the passages in which he thought them to be expressed. Sometimes, according to 
Irenaaus, the Gnostics apparently, without making an exception in favor of Paul, 
charged the apostles generally with Jewish errors and ignorance concerning the higher 
truths and mysteries of religion. "All those," he says, "who hold pernicious doctrines 
have departed in their faith from him who is God, and think that they have found out 
more than the apostles, having discovered another God. They think that the apostles 
preached the Gospel while yet under the influence of Jewish prejudices, but that their 
own faith is purer, and that they are wiser than the apostles." He states that Marcion 
proceeded on these principles in rejecting the use of some of the books of Scripture, and of 
portions of those which he retained. (Lib. Ill, c. xii, § 12.) "The heretics," says Ter- 
tullian, "are accustomed to affirm that the apostles did not know all things; while, at 
other times, under the influence of the same madness, they turn about and maintain that 
the apostles did indeed know all things, but did not teach all things to all." (De 
Prasser. Hssr., c. xxii.) 5. Add to this the belief of the theosophic Gnostics in their 
own infallible spiritual knowledge. This they conceived of as the result of their spir- 
itual nature. "They object to us," says Clement of Alexandria, "that we are of another 
nature, and unable to comprehend their peculiar doctrines." (Stromal, vii, § 16.) 

After these introductory remarks we will proceed to the examination of the testimony 
of heretical writers, as Westcott gives it in his Canon, and we shall find it strictly anal- 
ogous to that of the Fathers in its progressive development. As the New Testament 
recognizes the existence of parties and heresies in the Christian society from its first 
origin, so the earliest false teachers witness more or less clearly to the existence and 
reception of our canonical Gospels. 

SIMON MAGUS AND CERINTHUS. 

The heretics that arose in the apostolic age were Simon Magus and Cerinthus. The 
former seems to have been the first representative of the antichristian element of the 
Gentile world, the latter that of the antichristian element in Judaism. In the lately- 



THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 45 



discovei'ed parts of a work of Hippolytus, a disciple of Irenseus, (Pliilosophumena, or a ref- 
utation of all heresies, book VI,) there are preserved several quotations from a writing 
named " The Great Announcement," which contains an account of the revelation SimOn 
Magus professed to be intrusted with, and which seems to have been compiled from his oral 
teaching by one of his immediate followers. In the fragments, which Hippolytus quotes 
of this work, there are coincidences with words recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. 
Reference is also made to the First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians in terms which 
prove that it was placed by the author on the same footing as the books of the Old Test- 
ament. "The Cerinthians," Epiphanius says, "make use of Matthew's Gospel, (the 
Gospel according to the Hebrews,) like the Ebionites, on account of the human gene- 
alogy, though their copy is not entire The apostle Paul they entirely reject 

on account of his opposition to circumcision." But of the most importance is the rela- 
tion of Cerinthus to John. While we find in the New Testament no reference to the 
later developments of Gnosticism by Valentinus or Marciou, — another proof of the 
authenticity of the apostolical writings, for if they had been written after the apostolical 
age, an entire ignoring of the heresies of the second century would be inexplicable, — 
some of the prominent features in the false systems of Simon Magus and of Cerinthus 
are exposed in the Epistle to the Hebrews and in the Introduction to John's Gospel. 
Nothing, indeed, can be more truly opposite to Cerinthianism than the theology of John. 
The character of his Gospel was evidently influenced by prevailing errors ; though it is 
not a mere controversial work, we can not but feel that it was written to satisfy some 
pressing want of the age, and to meet some false philosophy, which had already begun 
to fashion a peculiar dialect. Cerinthus upheld a ceremonial system, and taught only a 
temporary union of the Logos with the man Jesus. St. John proclaimed that Judaism had 
passed away, and set forth clearly the manifestation of the Eternal Word in His historic 
Incarnation. The teaching of John is doubtless far deeper and wider than was needed to 
meet the errors of Cerinthus, but it has a natural connection with the period in which 
he lived. 

THE OPHITES. 

This sect, into which some Christian ideas were infused, Hippolytus places in the 
age next succeeding that of the apostles. Although they are said to have made use of 
the Gospel according to the Egyptians, and of the Gospel of Thomas, the passages given 
from their books contain clear references to the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John, 
and to several Epistles. Irenseus speaks of the Ophites as the first source of the Valen- 
tinian school, the original " hydra-head from which its manifold progeny was derived." 

BASILIDES. 

He stood at the head of one of the Gnostic sects, and lived, according to Eusebius, (Hist. 
Ecc, IV, 7,) not long after the times of the apostles. Ho is said to have been a younger 
cotemporary of Cerinthus, and a follower of Menander, who was himself the successor 
of Simon Magus. Clement of Alexandria and Jerome fix the period of his activity in 
the time of Hadrian, and he found a formidable antagonist in Agrippa Castor. All 
these circumstances combine to place him in the generation next after the apostolic age, 
between Clement of Rome and Polycarp. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Epipha- 
nius give specimens of the teaching of Basilides, exactly accordant with the more import- 
ant quotations of Hippolytus. The mode in which the books of the New Testament are 
treated in these fragments, show that the earliest heretics sought to recommend their 
doctrines by forced explanations of apostolic language. And more than this, they con- 
tain the earliest undoubted instances in which the Old and New Testaments are placed 
on the same level ; the Epistles of Paul are called " Scripture," and quotations from them 



46 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



are introduced by the well-known form: "it is written." Since Basilides lived on the 
verge of the apostolic times, it is, however, not surprising that he claimed other sources 
of Christian doctrine besides the canonical books. The belief in Divine inspiration was 
still fresh and real ; and Eusebius relates that he set up imaginary prophets, Barcabbas 
and Barcoph, (or Parchor,) " names to strike terror into the superstitious." At the same 
time he appealed to the authority of Glaucias, who is said to have been, like Mark, an 
interpreter of Peter; he also made use of certain "Traditions of Matthias," which 
claimed to be grounded on private intercourse with the Savior. The author of the 
Homilies on Luke, which have been ascribed to Origen, speaks of a " Gospel according 
to Basilides." But there is no mention of it by Irenseus or by Clement of Alexandria, 
nor by Epiphanius, nor by Eusebius, nor by Theodoret. Why should we not have heard 
as much of a gospel written by Basilides as of the defective Gospel of Luke used by the 
Marcionites ? The notion that Basilides wrote a gospel probably arose from the fact 
that he wrote a commentary on the Gospels. However that may be, he admitted the 
historic truth of all the facts contained in the canonical Gospels, and used them as Scrip- 
ture. In the fragments of his writings which we find in Hippolytus, there are definite 
references to the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John, as well as to several Epistles; 
and Bunsen is of opinion, " that his whole metaphysical development is an attempt to 
connect a cosmogonic system Avith John's prologue and with the person of Christ." 
(Bunsen's Hippolytus and his Age, vol. I, p. 87.) So much is certain, we possess, in 
Basilides, a witness to the existence of these Gospels as early as between 120 and 
130 A. D. 

VALENTINUS. 

Shortly after Basilides began to propagate his doctrines, another system arose at Alex- 
andria. Its author, Valentinus — after the example of the Christian teachers of his age — 
went to Borne, which he chose as the center of his labors. Irena3us relates, that " he 
came there during the episcopate of Hyginus, was at his full vigor in the time of Pius, 
and continued there till the time of Anicetus." His testimony, therefore, in point of age, 
is as venerable as that of Justin, and he is removed, by one generation only, from the 
time of John. Just as Basilides claimed, through Glaucias, the authority of Peter, 
Valentinus professed to follow the teaching of Theodas, a disciple of Paul. This circum- 
stance is important ; for it shows that at the beginning of the second century, alike 
within and without the Church, the sanction of an apostle was considered to be a suffi- 
cient proof of Christian doctrine. The fragments of his writings which remain show 
the same natural and trustful use of Scripture as any other Christian works of the same 
period. He cites the Epistle to the Ephesians as "Scripture," and refers clearly to the Gos- 
pels of Matthew, Luke, and John. The Valentinians, however, are said to have added a new 
gospel to the other four : " Casting aside all fear, and bringing forward their own compo- 
sitions, they boast that they have more gospels than there really are. For they have 
advanced to such a pitch of daring as to entitle a book, which was composed by them 
not long since, 'the Gospel of Truth,' though it accords in no respect with the Gospels 
of the apostles ; so that the Gospel, in fact, can not exist among them without blasphemy. 
For if that which is brought forward by them is the Gospel of Truth, and still is unlike 
those which arc delivered to us by the apostles — they, who please, can learn how from 
the writings themselves — it is shown at once that that which is delivered to us by the 
apostles is not the Gospel of Truth." (Iren. Adv. ILer., Ill, xi, 11, 9.) What, then, was this 
gospel ? If it had been a history of our Blessed Lord, and yet wholly at variance with 
the canonical Gospels, it is evident that the Yalentinians could not have received these — 
nor, indeed, any one of them — as they undoubtedly did. And here, then, a new light is 
thrown upon the character of some of the early apocryphal gospels, which has been in 
part anticipated by what was said of the gospel of Basilides. The gospel of Basilides or 



THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 47 

Valentinus contained their system of Christian doctrine, their view of the Gospel, philo- 
sophically, and not historically. The writers of these new gospels in no way necessarily 
interfered with the old. They sought, as far as we can learn, to embody their spirit and 
furnish a key to their meaning, rather than to supersede their use. The Yalentinians 
had more gospels than the catholic Church, since they accepted a doctrinal gospel. 

The titles of some of the other Gnostic gospels confirm what has been said. Two are 
mentioned by Epiphanius in the account of those whom he calls " Gnostics," as if that 
were their specific name, the Gospel of Eve and the Gospel of Perfection. Neither of 
these could be historic accounts of the life of Christ, and the slight description of their 
character which he adds, illustrates the wide use of the word "gospel." The first was 
an elementary account of Gnosticism, " based on foolish visions and testimonies," called 
by the name of Eve, as though it had been revealed to her by the serpent. The second 
was "a seductive composition." (Epiph. User., xxvi, 2.) The analogy of the title of this 
"Gospel of Perfection" leaves little doubt as to the character of the "Gospel of Truth." 
Puritan theology can furnish numerous similar titles. And the partial currency of such 
a book among the Yalentinians offers not the slightest presumption against their agree- 
ment with catholic Christians on the exclusive claims of the four Gospels as records of 
Christ's life. These they took as the basis of their speculations ; and by the help of com- 
mentaries endeavored to extract from them the principles which they maintained. 

HERACLEON. 

Origen says that "he was reported to have been a familiar friend of Valentinus," 
(Comm. in Joan., torn, ii, § 8.) Assuming this statement to be true, his writings can not 
well date later than the first half of the second century; and he claims the title of the 
first commentator on the New Testament. Fragments of his commentaries on the Gos- 
pels of Luke and John have been preserved by Clement of Alexandria and Origen. 
The fragments contain allusions to the Gospel of Matthew, to the Epistles of Paul to the 
Eomans, and Corinthians, (I,) and to the Second Epistle to Timothy; but the character 
of the Commentary itself is the most striking testimony to the estimation in which the 
apostolic writings, were held. The sense of the inspiration of the Evangelists — of some 
providential guidance by which they were led to select each fact in their history, and 
each word in their narrative — is not more complete in Origen. The first commentary on 
the New Testament exhibits the application of the same laws to its interpretation as were 
employed in the Old Testament. The slightest variation of language was held to be 
significant. Numbers were supposed to conceal a hidden truth. The Avhole record was 
found to be pregnant with spiritual meaning, conveyed by the teaching of events in 
themselves real and instructive. It appears, also, that differences between the Gospels 
were felt, and an attempt made to reconcile them, (Orig. in Joan., x, § 21;) and it must 
be noticed that authoritative spiritual teaching was not limited to our Lord's own words, 
but the remarks of the Evangelist also were received as possessing an inherent weight. 
The introduction of commentaries implies the strongest belief in the authenticity and 
authority of the New Testament Scriptures; and this belief becomes more important 
when we notice the source from which they were derived. They took their rise among 
heretics, and not among catholic Christians. Just as the earliest Fathers applied them- 
selves to the Old Testament, to bring out its real harmony with the Gospel, heretics 
endeavored to reconcile the Gospel with their own systems. Commentaries were made 
where the Avant for them was pressing. But unless the Gospels had been generally 
accepted, the need for such works would not have been felt. Heracleon was forced to 
turn and modify much that he found in John, which he would not have done if the book 
had not been raised above all doubt. And his evidence is the more valuable because it 
appears that he had studied the history of the apostles. 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



PTOLEM^TJS. 

Ptolemseus, like Heracleon, was a disciple of Yalentinus. Epiphanius has preserved 
an important letter which Ptolemseus' addressed to an "honorable sister Flora," in which 
he maintains the imperfect character of the Law. In proof of this doctrine he quoted 
words of our Lord recorded by Matthew, the prologue to John's Gospel, and passages 
from Paul's Epistles to the Komans, Corinthians, (I,) and Ephesians. Many other 
fragments of the teachings, if not of the books, of Ptolemseus have been preserved by 
Irenseus, (Adv. Hser., I, lsqq;) and though they are full of forced explanations of 
Scripture, they recognize, even in their wildest theories, the importance of every detail 
or doctrine. He found support for his doctrine in the parables, the miracles, and the 
facts of our Lord's life, as well as in the teaching of the apostles. In the course of the 
exposition of his system quotations occur from the four Gospels, and from the Epistles of 
Paul to the Romans, Corinthians, (I,) Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians. 

THE MARCOSIANS. 

"The Marcosians," Irenaeus writes, "introduce with subtilty an unspeakable multitude 
of apocryphal and spurious ■writings, (jpacpal,') which they forged themselves, to confound 
the foolish and those who know not the Scriptures (ypd/jL/xara) of truth." (Adv. User., 
I, xx, 1.) In the absence of further evidence, it is impossible to pronounce exactly on 
the character o these books; it is sufficient that they did not supplant the canonical 
Scriptures. At the same time their appearance in this connection is not without import- 
ance. Marcus, the founder of the sect, was probably a native of Syria; and Syria, it is 
well known, was fertile in those religious tales which are raised to too great importance 
by the title of gospels. "Whatever the apocryphal writings may have been, the words of 
Irenseus show that they were easily distinguishable from Holy Scripture; and the Mar- 
cosians themselves bear witness to the familiar use of our Gospels. The formularies 
which Marcus instituted contain references to the Gospel of Matthew, and perhaps to 
the Epistle to the Ephesians, (Adv. User., I, xiii, 3.) The teaching of his followers 
offers coincidences with all four Gospels. These Gospel quotations present various 
remarkable readings, but there is no reason to suppose that they were borrowed from any 
other source than the canonical books. Irenseus evidently considered that they were 
taken thence; and while he accuses the Marcosians of "adapting" certain passages of the 
Gospels to their views, the connection shows that they tampered with the interpretation 
and not with the text. 

MARCION. 

Hitherto the testimony of heretical writers to the New Testament has been confined 
to the recognition of detached parts, by casual quotations or characteristic types of doc- 
trine. Marcion, on the contrary, fixed a definite collection of apostolic books as the 
foundation of his system. Paul only, according to him, was the true apostle; and Pauline 
writings alone were admitted into his canon. This was divided into two parts: "The 
Gospel" and "The Apostolicon." The Gospel was a recension of Luke, with numerous ' 
omissions and variations from the received text. The Apostolicon contained ten epistles 
of Paul, excluding the pastoral epistles and that to the Hebrews. Tertullian and Epiph- 
anius agree in affirming that Marcion altered the text of the books which he received to 
suit his own views; and they quote many various readings in support of their assertion. 
Those which occur in the Epistles are certainly insufficient to prove the point. "With the 
Gospel the case was different. The influence of oral tradition, by the form and use of 
the written Gospels, was of long continuance. The personality of their authors was, in 
some measure, obscured by the character of their work. The Gospel was felt to be 



TUE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 49 

Christ's Gospel — the name which Marcion ventured to apply to his own — and not the 
particular narration of any Evangelist. And such considerations as these will explain, 
though they did not justify, the liberty which Marcion allowed himself in dealing with 
the text of Luke. There can be no doubt that Luke's narrative lay at the basis of his 
Gospel ; but it is not equally clear that all the changes which were introduced into it 
were due to Marcion himself. Some of the omissions can be explained at once by his 
peculiar doctrines, but others are unlike arbitrary corrections, and must be considered as 
various readings of the greatest interest, dating, as they do, from a time anterior to all 
other authorities in our possession. 

TATIAN. 

The history of Tatian throws an important light on that of Marcion. Both were 
naturally restive, inquisitive, impetuous. They were subject to the same influences, and 
were for a while, probably, resident in the same city. (Tat. ad Gr., 18; Just. Ap., i, 26.) 
Both remained for some time within the Catholic Church, and then sought the satisfac- 
tion of their peculiar wants in a system of stricter discipline and sterner logic. Both 
abandoned the received canon of Scripture ; and together they go far to witness to its 
integrity. While they witness to the existence of a critical spirit among Christians of 
the second century, they point to a Catholic Church as the one center from which their 
systems diverged. 

The earliest mention of the Diatessaron of Tatian is in Eusebius. "Tatian," he says, 
"the former leader of the Encratites, having put together, in some strange fashion, a 
combination and collection of the Gospels, gave this the name of the Diatessaron, 
and the work is still partially current." The words evidently imply that the canonical 
Gospels formed the basis of Tatian's Harmony. The next testimony is that of Ejfiph- 
anius, who writes that "Tatian is said to have been the author of the Harmony of the 
four Gospels, which some call the Gospel according to the Hebrews." (Epiph. Haer., xlvi, 
1.) The express mention of the four Gospels is important as fixing the meaning of the 
original titles. Not long afterward, Theodoret gives a more exact account of the charac- 
ter and common use of the book. "Tatian also composed the gospel called 'Diatessaron,' 
and all the other passages which show that Christ was born of David according to the 
flesh. This was used not only by the members of his own party, but even by those who 
followed the apostolic doctrine, as they did not perceive the evil design of the composi- 
tion, but used the book in their simplicity for its conciseness. And I found also myself 
more than two hundred such books in our Churches, (in Syria,) which had been received 
with respect; and having gathered all together, I caused them to be laid aside, and 
introduced in their place the Gospels of the four Evangelists." (Theod. Hser., lib. I, 20.) 
Not only, then, was the Diatessaron grounded on the four canonical Gospels, but in its 
general form it was so orthodox as to enjoy a wide ecclesiastical popularity. The heret- 
ical character of the book was not evident upon the surface of it, and consisted rather in 
faults of defect than in erroneous teaching. Theodoret had certainly examined it, and 
he, like earlier writers, regarded it as a compilation from the four Gospels. He 
speaks of omissions which were, in part at least, natural in a Harmony, but notices no 
such apocryphal additions as would have found place in any gospel not derived from 
canonical sources. 

Though in the preceding quotations from the heretical writings nearly all the so-called 
apocryphal gospels have been referred to and characterized, we may throw still clearer 
light on the whole question by pointing out the different classes of these apocryphal gos- 
pels, and adding some general remarks. 

There can be no doubt that the Gospel of Matthew in the Aramaic Hebrew — whether 
the Evangelist wrote his Gospel originally in that language or in Greek is a question 



50 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



which will be answered in the Introduction to that Gospel — was the original of various 
recensions, called the Gospel according to the Hebrews, the Ebionite Gospel, the Gospel of 
Cerinth ; it is also highly probable that the numerous quotations which occur in the 
Clementine Homilies are to be traced to some recension of the Gospel of Matthew by 
one of the Judaizing sects, perhaps the Cerinthians. The Nazarenes evidently possessed 
it at first in the pure form which we find in the Greek text ; for even in Jerome's time 
the copy which they still preserved bore the closest resemblance to the canonical Gospel. 
But inasmuch as the outward isolation and peculiar views of the Judaizing sects ren- 
dered the insertion of fresh material easy, the Ebionites falsified and mutilated it, most 
probably, in various ways to suit their peculiar views.* 

As it is admitted on all hands, that the Gospel of Marcion was a mutilated edition of 
that of Luke, and sufficient has been said on this point, we pass on to the so-called 
"Gospel according to the Egyptians." On this Mr. Norton remarks: "It was an anony- 
mous book, extant in the second century, and probably written in Egypt, in the dark 
and mystical style that prevailed in that country. In judging of its importance we must 
compare the few writers who recognize its existence with the far greater number to 
whom it was unknown, or who were not; led by any circumstance to mention it. It was 
a book of which we should have been ignorant, but for a few incidental notices afforded 
by writers, none of whom give evidence of having seen it. Neither Clement, nor any 
other writer, speaks of it as a Gnostic gospel. The Gnostics did not appeal to it in sup- 
port of their fundamental doctrines ; for had they done so, we should have been fully 
informed of the fact. The only argument for believing it to have been a history of 
Christ's ministry is, that it contained a narrative of a pretended conversation of Christ 
with Salome, but that might as well have been inserted in a merely doctrinal book. 
And if the book had been a historical gospel, the representation of Christ — to judge 

* In order to enable the reader to make a comparison between the Gospel according to the Hebrews and the 
Gospel of Matthew, we will copy a few quotations. The following quotation is made by Origen, (Comm. on Matt., 
torn. XVI, I 14:) 

" Another rich man said to him, Master, what good thing shall I do to live ? He said to him : Fulfill the law 
and the prophets. He answered him : I have fulfilled them. He said to him : Go, sell all that thou possessest and 
distribute to the poor, and come, follow me. But the rich man began to scratch his head, and it did not please 
him. And the Lord said to him : How sayest thou, I have fulfilled the law and the prophets, since it is written in 
the law, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself; and lo ! many of thy brethren, sons of Abraham, are clothed in 
filth, dying of hunger; and thy house is full of many goods, and nothing at all goes out of it to them 1 And he 
turned and said to Simon, his disciple, who was sitting by him: Simon, son of Jonas, it is easier for a camel to 
enter the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven." 

In Jerome we find the following quotations : 

"So the mother of the Lord, and his brethren said to him: John the Baptist is baptizing for the remission of 
sins ; let us go and be baptized by him. But he said to them : What sin have I committed that I should go and be 
baptized by him? Unless, perchance, this very word which I have spoken is (a sin of) ignorance." (Hieron. Adv. 
Pelag., Ill, 2.) 

" Now, it came to pass when the Lord had come up out of the water, the Holy Spirit with full stream came 
down and rested upon him, and said to him : My Son, in all the prophets I was waiting for thee, that thou 
shouldest come, and I might rest in thee. For thou art my rest; thou art my first-born Son, who reignest forever." 
(Hieron. in Isaiah, IV, xi, 2.) 

" Now the Lord, when he had given the cloth to the servant of the priest, went to James and appeared to him. 
For James had taken an oath that he would not eat bread from that hour on which he had drunk the cup of the 
Lord, till he saw him risen from the dead. Again, a little afterward, the Lord says, Bring a table and bread. Im- 
mediately, it is added, he took bread, and blessed, and brake, and gave it to James the Just, and said to him, My 
brother, eat thy bread, for the Son of man has risen from the dead." (Hieron. de Vir. Illust., II.) 

"In the Gospel which the Nazarenes and Ebionites use," says Jerome, on Matt, xii, 13, "the man with the 
withered hand is described as a mason, who sought the help of Christ with words to this effect: I was a mason, 
seeking a livelihood by the labor of my hand. I pray thee, Jesus, to restore to me my health, that I may not beg 
my bread in disgrace." 

These extracts show us clearly how little any other age than that of the apostles was able to originate or even 
to reproduce the simple grandeur of inspired language, and what might have been expected from writings founded 
on tradition, even when shaped after an apostolic pattern. In no sense can the apocryphal gospels of the Judaiz- 
ing sects bear any comparison with ours, neither in form nor in matter. They are destitute of spirit, life, good 
taste, sublimity, and authority. 



THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 51 

from the words ascribed to him in the conversation with Salome — must have been so 
foreign in its character from that in our Gospels, that it could not have existed in the 
last half of the second century without having been an object of far greater attention 
than what this book received." 

The same maybe said concerning the so-called "Gospel according to Peter." From 
the account which Serapion, Bishop of Antioeh about the close of the second century, 
gives of it, as quoted by Eusebius, (Hist. Eccl., lib. VI, c. xii,) it appears clearly that it 
did not pretend to be a history of Christianity. Had this been the case, Serapion could 
not have regarded it with such indifference as he first manifested. It is impossible that 
the existence of such a history should not have been notorious, that it should not have 
been a frequent subject of remark. "When we recollect the abundant notices of Marcion's 
Gospel, it can not be believed that there Avas another historical book extant among the 
heretics, of which the notices are so scanty, and which is never mentioned as a histor- 
ical book. It belongs to the same class of writings as the Gospel of Basilides, the tradi- 
tions of Matthias, the Gospel according to Thomas, the True Gospel, the Gospel of Eve, 
the Gospel of Perfection, which, as we remarked above, were doctrinal tracts, not histor- 
ical accounts of Christ's ministry; or, at least, so very obscure ones, that no sect for a 
moment pretended to set them up in opposition to our canonical Gospels. Norton 
remarks very fitly: "About the beginning of the last century a manuscript was made 
known of a gospel ascribed to Barnabas, in the Italian language, but supposed to be 
translated from the Arabic. It is the work of a Mohammedan, or a work interpolated 
by a Mohammedan. Much more has been written about this book than all that is to be 
found in the Christian writers of the first three centuries concerning apocryphal gospels; 
yet it is a book of which, probably, few of my readers have ever heard. It is easy to 
apply this fact to assist ourselves in judging of the importance to be attached to the 
notices of apocryphal gospels found in the Fathers." Nor would we have devoted so 
much attention to the consideration of these apocryphal gospels, had not the latest 
German school of destructive criticism set up the monstrous claim, that the Ebionitic and 
Gnostic Gospels were the original histories of our Lord, and our canonical Gospels later pro- 
ductions, mitten for the express purpose to impirove upon them! To critics who can main- 
tain that the Gospel according to the Hebrews or the Gospel of Marcion are respectively 
the originals of Matthew and Luke, it is sufficient to apply the word of the apostle: 
"Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." The authors of our four canon- 
ical Gospels, who stood infinitely above all the authors of the second century, are 
assumed to have written toward the close of that century, under the fictitious names of 
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and to have remained undiscovered, although they 
succeeded in revolutionizing the whole Christian literature of that age, and substituting 
their products in the place of the original histories of Christ's ministry, so that none of 
the critical writers at the close of the second century could discover the least trace of the 
unheard-of legerdemain ! 

From the apocryphal gospels having a heretical tendency must be distinguished those 
fabulous books called the Gospels of the Infancy, the Gospel of ISTicodemus, the Prote- 
vangelion of James, etc. "The former," says Mr. Westcott, "were either based on the 
same oral traditions as the canonical Gospels, or revisions of the canonical texts; but 
these enter on a new field, and illustrate the writings of the New Testament more by the 
complete contrast which they offer to the spirit and style of the whole, than by minute 
yet significant divergences from particular books. The completeness of the antithesis 
which these spurious stories offer to the Divine Eecord appears at once — if we may be 
allowed for a moment to compare light with darkness — in relation to the treatment of 
the three great elements of the Gospel history, miracles, parables, and prophecy. In the 
apocryphal miracles we find no worthy conception of the laws of providential inter- 
ference; they are wrought to supply personal wants, or to gratify private feelings, and 



52 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



often are positively immoral. Nor, again, is there any spiritual element in their work- 
ing; they are arbitrary displays of power, and without any spontaneity on our Lord's 
part or on that of the recipient. These apocryphal gospels are also entirely without 
parables; they exhibit no sense of those deeper relations between nature and man, 
between corruption and sin, which are so frequently declared in the synoptic Gospels; 
and, at the same time, they do not rise to the purely-spiritual theology of John, which in 
its very essence rises above the mixed earthly existence of man. Yet more, they do not 
recognize the office of prophecy; they make no reference to the struggles of the Church 
with the old forms of sin and evil, reproduced from age to age, till the final regeneration 
of all things. History, in them, becomes a mere collection of traditions, and is regarded 
neither as the fulfillment of the past nor as the type of the future." 

In conclusion, we may mention two other apocryphal writings which contain numer- 
ous allusions to the facts of the Gospels, but are not imitations of the apostolical books — 
the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, and some portions of the Sybilline Oracles. 
In them the Gospel history is thrown into a prophetic form. 

§ 13. The Testimonies of Heathen Adversaries. 

To the external evidences for the authenticity of the Gospels is to be added the testi- 
mony of avowed enemies. The learned Lardner says in his collection of Jewish and 
heathen testimonies, (on the New Testament canon :) " Of all the testimonies on the writ- 
ings of the New Testament, which we meet with in the first centuries of the Christian era, 
none are weightier and more important than those of the learned philosophers who wrote 
against Christianity; namely, of Celsus, in the second, Porphyry, in the third, and Julian 
the Apostate, in the fourth century." 

Celsus, a philosopher, who flourished about 176 A. D., proposed to himself the formal 
task of setting forth how dangerous the Christian religion would prove to the State. 
His learned argument against the Christians is the first heathen testimony as to the existence 
of New Testament writings. This work, entitled " The True Word," has unfortunately 
been lost, but in Origen's reply to it there are more copious extracts from it than from 
any other book of antiquity that has been lost. In these' extracts we have almost an 
abridgment of the Gospel history. They contain about eighty quotations from the New 
Testament, which amply prove that Celsus Avas acquainted with the writings of Matthew, 
Luke, and John, and some of the Epistles of Paul. He mentions nearly all the leading 
events in the life of Christ from his birth to his death ; of course, only in order to make 
them ridiculous. His whole argument, however, is based on the admission that the writ- 
ings of the Christians were the productions of their professed authors, though he refers 
to some alterations of the Gospels made by the Marcionites and other heretics. From 
the testimony, then, of this most malignant enemy of the Christian religion, who was, at 
the same time, a man of considerable learning and influence, it appears, that the writings 
of the Evangelists existed in his time, the first period succeeding the apostolic age, and 
that these writings were then acknowledged, even by enemies, to be authentic. 

The next witness is Porphyry, who was born 230 A. D., and wrote against Christian- 
ity about 270 A. D. From the few fragments left of this work it appears that he was 
acquainted with our Gospels and some other of the New Testament writings. This 
work enjoyed a high reputation among the heathen, and Eusebius and other learned 
Christians deemed it worth their while to refute it. In what we have left of it there are 
direct references to the. Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John, the Acts, and the Epistles 
to the Galatians. Speaking of the Christians, he calls Matthew their Evangelist. This 
man was every way qualified, both by education and his position in society, to find out 
whether the New Testament writings were authentic, or whether, after the death of the 
apostles and Evangelists, spurious works were, as their writings, palmed upon the Chris- 



THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 53 

tians. But we discover not even a hint at a suspicion of this kind; yea, Porphyry 
appears to have had no douht whatever as to the authenticity of these writings. From 
the attempt of this ingenious writer that the book of Daniel was an ex post facto 
prophecy, we see how well he knew to estimate an argument against the authenticity 
of a hook of the New Testament, and how eagerly he would have made use of it against 
the Christians, if he had had but the least data for forming one. 

One hundred years after Porphyry, nourished the Emperor Julian, (A. D. 331-363,) 
6urnamed the Apostate, from his renunciation of Christianity after he mounted the impe- 
rial throne. Though he resorted to the most artful political means for undermining Chris- 
tianity, yet, as a writer against it, he was every way inferior to Porphyry. From various 
extracts of his work against the Christians, transcribed by Jerome and Cyril, it is evident 
that he did not deny the truth of the Gospel history, as a history; though he denied the 
Divinity of Jesus Christ asserted in the writings of the Evangelists, he acknowledged the 
principal facts in the Gospels, as well as the miracles of our Savior and his apostles. 
Referring to the difference between the genealogies recorded by Matthew and Luke, he 
noticed them by name, and recited the sayings of Christ in the very words of the Evan- 
gelists. He also bore testimony to the Gospel of John being composed later than the 
other Evangelists, and at a time when great numbers were converted to the Christian 
faith both in Italy and Greece; and alluded oftener than once to facts recorded in the 
Acts of the Apostles. By thus quoting the four Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, and 
by quoting no other books, Julian shows that these were the only historical books 
received by the Christians as of authority, and as containing authentic memoirs of Jesus 
Christ and his apostles, together with the doctrines taught by them. But Julian's testi- 
mony does something more than represent the judgment of the Christian Church in his 
time ; it discovers also his own. He himself expressly states the early date of these 
records ; he calls them by the names which they now bear. He all along supposes, he 
no where attempts to question, their genuineness or authenticity; nor does he give even 
the slightest intimation that he suspected the whole or any part of them to be forgeries. 

We have seen that none of these avowed enemies of Christianity has expressed the 
least suspicion as to the authenticity of the ISTew Testament writings, and we would ask, 
in conclusion, who will deny that in the writings of a Celsus, Porphyry, and Julian, 
all of whom were learned men and zealous adversaries and persecutors of the Chris- 
tians, and whose testimonies cover the period from 176 to 361 of the Christian era, 
every reasonable demand of testimony borne by enemies is fully met, and that this testi- 
mony, in the wise providence of God, makes the external evidence for the Gospel history 
as complete as it possibly can be from the nature of the case ? 



CHAPTEE II. 

THE INTERNAL EVIDENCES. 
§ 14. The Peculiar Dialect op Greek in which the Evangelists Have Written. 

As we remarked in § 5, that some arguments for the genuineness or integrity of the 
Sacred Text were, at the same time, arguments for the authenticity of the records, so we 
can not entirely separate the internal evidences for the authenticity from the arguments 
for the credibility or historic verity of the Gospel records, which will be the subject of 
investigation in our next Part. In the case of such compositions as the Gospels, the 
proof of their having been written by apostles, and by those who received their accounts 



54 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



immediately from the apostles, is at the same time, as we shall further show in the next 
Part, the proof of their historic verity. But, though the arguments for their authen- 
ticity and their credibility are thus intimately blended together, and though the \iltimate 
purpose of both is the same, it is, nevertheless, desirable to consider the former sepa- 
rately, and simply with reference to their bearing upon the question of authenticity. 
They will thus form a natural transition and proper introduction to Part III. 

The Greek language, in which the New Testament writings originally appeared — as is 
universally admitted, with the exception of the Gospel of Matthew, and the Epistle to the 
Hebrews* — is not the classical Greek, such as was written by Plato, Aristotle, and other 
eminent Greek writers. Had the Evangelists and apostles written in pure, elegant, clas- 
sical Greek, thoughtful minds would have found considerable difficulty in believing them 
to be the authors of those productions, and we should lack one imj>ortant evidence 
of the authenticity of New Testament Scripture — its being written in the style natural 
to the persons by whom, and to the age in which it was produced. 

The basis of the New Testament Greek is the common or Hellenic dialect — the name 
given to that form of the Greek language which came into general use after the Mace- 
donian conquest. It was called common, because it originated in a sort of fusion of the 
particular dialects which had prevailed in earlier times; and this fusion of dialects had 
its origin chiefly from the fusion of the several States of Greece into the one great 
Macedonian Empire. In this fusion of dialects, however, the Attic still prevailed 
as the model form of the Greek language. This common dialect we find in the New 
Testament writings— in some of them to a greater extent than in others — intermixed 
with the free and frequent use of forms derived from the Aramaic or Syro-Chaldaic dia- 
lect of the Hebrew language, which had become the vernacular language of the Jewish 
people in the time of the Savior. This Hebraistic influencef in the style of the New 
Testament writers appears, as Fairbairn shows by many examples, 1, in the various fea- 
tures of grammatical construction peculiar to the Hebrew language, as, (1,) in the more 
frequent use of the prepositions for marking relations, which were wont to be indicated 
in pure Greek by means of cases; (2,) in the paucity of conjunctions which existed in 
the Hebrew, while the Greek possessed a great abundance — of which, however, the New 
Testament writers did not avail themselves. (3.) A further Hebraistic turn appears in 
the frequent use of the genitive pronouns instead of the possessives. This naturally 
arose from the inspired writers being used to the Hebrew suffixes. (4.) Another pronom- 
inal peculiarity, arising from assimilation to the Hebrew, is occasionally found in the 
New Testament. In Hebrew there is only one relative pronoun, and this is without any 
distinction as to number, gender, or case; on which account, to make the reference 



*The Epistle to the Hebrews is now held, by all men of competent learning, to have been originally composed 
in Greek. And as to the Gospel of Matthew, though the opinions of the learned are still divided, yet the 
conviction has of late been growing in favor of the proper originality of its present form, which was certainly in 
current use before the close of the apostolic age. (Fairbairn's Hermeneutical Manual.) 

f Against the frequent misuse of the so-called Hebraisms in the interpretation of the New Testament, Fair- 
bairn, in his Hermeneutical Manual, has very justly protested, showing, in the first place, that they are not nearly 
so numerous as they were at one time represented to be. They occur only so far as rendered necessary by the 
circumstances of the writers. Though the Greek syntax differs in many things from the Hebrew, wo find the New 
Testament writers accommodating themselves far more to the foreign idiom than has been generally allowed ; as, 
for instance, in the discriminating use of the aorist and perfect tenses — the aorist as denoting the historic past, and 
the perfect as denoting the past in its relation to the present, the past continuing with its effects and consequences 
to the present. John carefully observes this distinction when he says, (c. i, 3 :) eyeVero bvSe eV o ye'-yoi'ei/, that is, noth- 
ing whatever that has been made, and is still in being, was made without Him. So, also, in Colossians i, 16 ; iii, 3. 
In the second place, we should beware not to attach arbitrary meanings to the real Hebraisms which we find in the 
New Testament, as if the Hebrews had contravened the laws of all human language. For a long time the opinion 
was prevailing among commentators and lexicographers, that the prepositions, when handled by a Hellenistic Jew, 
might express almost any relation whatever. So Schleusner assigns to the preposition eis twenty-four, and to iv 
thirty distinct uses and meanings. In a few instances, even the authorized English version and that of Luther 



THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 55 

explicit, it is necessary to add the suffixes of the personal pronouns, or these pronouns 
themselves with a preposition. Hence such expressions as the following: "The land in 
which ye dwell upon it," "the place in which ye sojourn in it," and so on. As the Greek 
language possesses a declinahle relative pronoun, and adverbs derived from it, there was 
no need for this kind of awkward circumlocution. Yet the Evangelists were so accus- 
tomed to the Hebrew usage that they indulged in it occasionally, though not so fre- 
quently as the Septuagint. (5.) Again, the Hebrew was as remarkable for the fewness, 
as the Greek for the multiplicity, of its forms to express time — the one having its simple 
past and future tenses, while the other had its present, imperfect, perfect, pluperfect, its 
two aorists, first and second future, and paulo-post future. There can be no doubt that 
the New Testament writers were well acquainted with the principal tenses of the Greek 
verb; at the same time there are occasional anomalies, with a manifest preference for the 
simple past and future of the Hebrew, and a tendency to use the future, as expressive of 
necessity and continued action (must and is wont) somewhat more frequently than is 
usual in ordinary Greek. 2. In the use of words and phrases which have their corre- 
spondence only in Hebrew, but are not found in profane Greek writers, whether of the 
earlier or of the later periods. We mention, first, such words as a/S/9a, (abba,) afxvjv, 
(amen,) yeivva, (hell,) o-arav, (Satan,) etc. These are Oriental words in Greek letters, 
or with a Greek termination, and their meaning must be determined simply by a ref- 
erence to their Oriental use. There are, again, words and jmrases in themselves strictly 
Greek, but used in a sense different from what would naturally be put upon them by a 
simply Greek reader. For instance, the phrase -aea adp^, (all flesh,) for "all men," is quite 
a Hebraism, for native Greek writers never used adp; in the sense of "men;" and such 
an expression, if employed by them, would have meant not all mankind, but the whole 
flesh — of a man or an animal, as it might happen. 

On the whole, we may say the New Testament Greek has about as many Hebraisms 
as a work written in English by a German in this country, who, though familiar with 
the English language, is not a thorough scholar, or a work translated from the German, 
and referring to modes of thought peculiar to German mind, will exhibit, more or less, 
the idiom of the German language. Thus, the Hebraisms we find in the Gospels show 
the Evangelists to have been Jews by birth, and men in humble stations, who were not 
ambitious of seeking an exemption from the dialect they had once acquired, and we need 
not wonder to find the Hebraistic elements also in the writings of so learned a man a3 
Paul. Great as his erudition was, it was the erudition of a Jewish, not of a Grecian, 
school. His argumentations are those of a Jewish convert to Christianity, confuting his 
brethren on their own ground. How clearly can we recognize in his writings the Saul of 
Tarsus, who was educated at the feet of Gamaliel! There was, moreover, apart from the 

have suffered from the too prevalent notion of Hebraistic laxity. Thus, in the prayer of the converted malefactor, 
(Luke xxiii, 42:) "Remember me when thou comest ev tq paoi\ela aov " — not into thy kingdom, which might seem to 
point to the glory into which the Lord was presently going to enter, but in thy kingdom ; namely, when the time 
comes for thee to take to thyself thy great power, and to reign among men ; for this future manifestation of glory 
was undoubtedly what the faith of the penitent man anticipated and sought to share in, not the glory which lay 
within the vail, which only the answer of Christ brought within the ken of his spiritual vision. From the real or 
alleged Hebraisms of the New Testament we must distinguish a class of expressions not in themselves absolutely 
new, but still fraught with an import which could not attach to them as used by any heathen writer, nor even in 
the production of any Greek-speaking Jew prior to the birth of Christ. With the marvelous events of the Gospel 
age, old things passed away, all things became new ; and the change which took place in the Divine dispensation 
could not fail to impress itself on those words and forms of expression which bore respect to what had then for the 
first time come properly into being. We refer to such terms as Aoyo?, (word,) pao-ikeia. tow ®eou, (kingdom of God,) 
aioiv tieKKuv, (world to come,) SiKawa-iiirri, (righteousness,) £u>rj, (life,) 8a.va.Ttv;, (death,) xap'Si (g raee >) ete - I n s0 f ar 
as these terms embodied the distinctive facts or principles of Christianity, their former and common usage could 
only in part exhibit the sense now acquired by them ; for the full depth and compass of meaning belonging to them 
in their new application, we must look to the New Testament itself, comparing one passage with another, and 
viewing the language used in the light of the great things which it brings to our apprehension. 



56 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



relation the New Testament writers bore to their country and nation, as Fairbairn re- 
marks, " a necessity for a certain departure from the pure, classical style, and calling in 
the aid of Jewish idioms and forms of speech, in order to exhibit in the most distinct 
and appropriate manner the peculiar truths of the Gospel. The native language of 
Greece, though in some respects the most perfect medium for the communication of 
thought which has ever been employed by the tongue of man, yet from being always 
conversant with worldly things, adapted to express every shade of thought and every 
variety of relationship within the human and earthly sphere — but still only these — it was 
not fully adequate to the requirements and purposes of Christian authorship. For this 
higher end it needed to borrow something from the sanctuary of God, and to be, as it 
were, baptized in the modes of thought and utterance which were familiar to those who 
had enjoyed the training of the Spirit. Thus the writings of the Old Testament 
formed a necessary preparation for the language of the New, as did also the history and 
institutions of the one for the religious ideas of the other. Nor is it too much to sav, 
that a Gospel in pure Greek, or even an apostolic epistle in pure Greek, is inconceivable. 
The canonical and the Hebrew are most intimately connected." Fairbairn adds to this: 
"It is perfectly consistent with all this, and no less true, that the writers of the New 
Testament often show a correct acquaintance with the idioms of the Greek language. 
In many cases their language rises superior to the common dialect of the time, and 
approaches marvelously near to the precision of Attic Greek, while in other passages it 
seems to sink below the average standard, and to present to us the peculiarities of the 
later Greek, distorted and exaggerated by Aramaic forms of expression. Where, how- 
ever, in a merely-literary point of view, the Sacred Volume may thus seem weakest, it is, 
considered from a higher point of view, incomparably strongest. It is this investiture 
of its doctrines with the peculiar richness and force of Hebraistic modes of expression, 
rather than with the diffluent garb of a corrupted and decayed Hellenism, that does 
truly reveal to us the overruling providence and manifold wisdom of God." 

It is also to be borne in mind, that, while all the writers of the New Testament par- 
took, to some extent, of the Hebraistic influence, some did so considerably more than 
others. The Hebraistic element differed even with the same writers in different parts of 
their writings, as in the Apocalypse of John, which is considerably more Hebraistic than 
either his Gospel or Epistles. The Gospel of Luke is decidedly less marked with Hebra- 
isms than those of Matthew and Mark. While, therefore, there are peculiarities which 
distinguish the New Testament Greek, as a whole, from other Greek writings, there are 
also peculiarities distinguishing the Greek of one writer from that of another, words and 
phrases used by one and not used by the others, or used in a manner peculiar to himself. 
Thus there is an individual, as well as a general, impress on the language of the New Test- 
ament writers — another mark of their authenticity. 

We have shown how fully the language of the Gospels accords with the personality 
and situation of those to whom they are ascribed. We may go still further and assert, 
that they could not have been written by any person or persons who lived in another 
age than that of the apostles. The conjunction of such Latinisms as xsvrupiwv, (centu- 
rion,) keyswv, (legion,) Ttpantopiov, (praetorium, judgment-hall,) xouffrwdca, (watch,) y.j}vffos, 
(census, tribute,) xoSpdvr-qs, (quadrans, farthing,) dqvdpiay, (denarius, penny,) aaaapwv, 
(assarius, farthing,) gizsxooMtu>p, (speculator, executioner,) (ppayslkwcraq, (having scourged, 
a participle formed from the Latin verb flagellare,) and many other terms, referring to 
the military force, revenue, and offices of the Roman Government, with such Hebraisms 
as xopftav, (Mark vii, 11,) paftjlouvt, (my Lord,) duo duo, (literally, two, two, Mark vi, 7,) 
■npaatai npaoiai, (literally, onion-beds, onion-beds, that is, in squares, like a garden-plot, 
Mark vi, 40, a Hebraistic repetition, as in the previous instance,) rd (iSikuyp-a rij^ ipy/ico- 
asuiq, (the abomination of desolation,) was natural only in Palestine during the period 
between Herod the Great and the destruction of Jerusalem, and marks the writers for 



THE AUTHENTICITY OP THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 57 

Jews of that time and country. If we bear in mind that although the New Testament 
diction has much in common with the LXX and the Greek apocryphal literature of the 
Old Testament, yet it has also much that is peculiar to itself; that these conclusive 
peculiarities could possibly arise only in the apostolic age, in such a state of the Jewish 
polity, as characterized the time between the death of our Savior and the destruction 
of Jerusalem, and, finally, that the later Christian Greek literature necessarily presup- 
poses the New Testament diction as its basis, we see at once how powerful a proof of 
the authenticity of our Gospels their peculiar idiom is. Apart from every other con- 
sideration, this circumstance alone exposes the absurdity of the theory which assigns 
the second century to the composition of the Gospels or of any one of them. 

Before dismissing, however, the argument for the authenticity of the Gospel records 
drawn from the New Testament Greek, it is proper to notice an objection. It has been 
asked : Was the current language of the common Jewish people not the Aramaic dialect 
of the Hebrew language? Did our Savior and his apostles not usually speak in that 
language ? How does it come, then, that the Evangelists, as well as the other writers of 
the New Testament, being Jews, should write in Greek ? It is true that our Lord is 
represented on several occasions as speaking in Aramaic : as when he said to the 
daughter of the Jewish ruler, Jairus, "Talitha cumi," and to the blind man, " Ephpha- 
tha," or when he referred to the terms currently employed among the people, such as 
raka, rabbi, corban; when he applied to his disciples such epithets as Cephas, Barjona, 
Boanerges, or when, on the cross, he exclaimed, " Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani." There 
is, on the other hand, a very remarkable circumstance to which the Duke of Manches- 
ter, (in his Essay on the Harmonizing of the Gospels.) has called attention. If we 
compare the Old Testament passages in the synoptical Gospels, we find that those of 
them which occur in the sermons or sayings of the Lord, are always from the LXX, 
while those of them which are quoted by the Evangelists themselves, deviate from the 
LXX in favor generally of the Hebrew text. If Christ had generally spoken the Ara- 
maic, it would be incomprehensible why the Evangelists should put quotations from 
the LXX only upon his lips, while they themselves, in their own quotations, do not restrict 
themselves to the LXX. The verbal harmony of the synoptical Evangelists is also best 
accounted for by the presumption that our Lord spoke usually in Greek with his dis- 
ciples, and this presumption is confirmed by the fact that at the raising of Jairus's 
daughter, where Jesus spoke Aramaic with the ruler of the synagogue, the verbal har- 
mony of the Synoptist's report of his saying is defective ; so, also, in the history of his 
sufferings, the Old Testament is no longer quoted from the LXX, because at Jerusalem 
the Aramaic was spoken more generally than in Galilee. 

Though Dr. Pairbairn contends that the Aramaic, or later Syro-Chaldaic form of the 
Hebrew, was the vernacular language of the Jewish people in the age of our Lord, and, 
consequently, the medium of intercourse on all ordinary occasions, he admits, " that from 
a long and varied concatenation of circumstances, the Greek language must have been 
very commonly understood by the higher and more educated classes throughout Syria. 
It was the policy both of Alexander and his successors, in that part of the world, to 
extend the language and culture as well as ascendency of Greece. With this view cities 
were planted at convenient distances, which might be considered Grecian rather than 
Asiatic in their population and manners. The Syriac kings, by whom the Macedonian 
line of rulers was continued, kept up Greek as the court language, and were, doubtless, 
followed by their official representatives and the influential classes generally throughout 
the country. The army, too, though not entirely, nor perhaps even in the major part, 
yet certainly in very considerable proportions, was composed of persons of Grecian 
origin, who could not fail to make the Greek language in some sense familiar at the 
various military stations in the regions of Syria. Even after the Macedonian rule had 
terminated and all became subject to the sway of the Bomans, it was still usually 



58 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



through the medium of the Greek tongue that official intercourse was maintained, and 
the decrees of government were made known. It is in the very nature of things impos- 
sible that so many Hellenizing influences should have continued in operation for two or 
three centuries without leading somewhat generally to a knowledge of Greek among the 
better classes in all pai-ts of Syria. There were also circumstances more strictly peculiar 
to the Jewish people, which could not be without their effect in making them to some ex- 
tent acquainted with the Greek language. Partly from special encouragements held out 
to them at the founding of Alexandria, a Grecian city, and partly, perhaps, from the mer- 
cantile spirit which began to take possession of them from the time of the Babylonish 
exile, Alexandria became one of their great centers, where, as we are told by Philo, they 
formed about two-fifths of the entire population. They abounded also, as is clear from 
the Acts of the Apostles, in the Greek-speaking cities of Asia Minor, and in those of 
Greece itself. From whatever causes, the dispersion seems, for some generations previous 
to the Christian era, to have taken very much a western, and especially a Grecian, direc- 
tion ; in every place of importance inhabited by Greeks, members of the stock of Israel 
had their homes and synagogues. It is only, too, what might have been expected in the 
circumstances, that the culture and enterprise, which distinguished the communities in 
those Grecian cities, would act with stimulating effect upon the Jewish mind, and bring 
its powers into more energetic play and freedom of action than was likely to be found 
among the Palestinian Jews, who were sealed up in their national bigotry and stagnant 
Pharisaism. Hence the only moral and religious productions which are known to have 
appeared among the Jews, between the closing of the Old Testament canon and the 
birth of Christ — those contained in the apocryphal writings — came chiefly, if not 
entirely, from the pen of the Hellenistic Jews, and exist only — most probably never did 
exist but — in the Greek language. Hence also the Greek translation of the Old Testa- 
ment, which was completed several generations before the Christian era, and which, 
there is good reason to believe, was in extensive use, about that time, among the Jewish 
people. So that, looking to the numbers, the higher intelligence, and varied resources 
of the Hellenistic Jews, and taking into account their frequent personal visits to 
Palestine, at the ever-recurring festivals, we can not doubt that they materially con- 
tributed to a partial knowledge and use of the Greek tongue among their brethren in 
Palestine." 

The fact that the books of the New Testament, and especially those which contain our 
Lord's personal discourses, should have been originally composed in the Greek instead 
of in the Aramaic language, in case our Lord and his immediate disciples spoke generally 
not in Greek to their countrymen, is thus accounted for by Dr. Pairbairn : "It was 
comparatively but a small portion of the people resident in Jerusalem and Judea who 
embraced the Christian faith ; and those who did, having, in the first instance, enjoyed 
many opportunities of becoming personally acquainted with the facts of Gospel history, 
and enjoying afterward the ministry of apostles and Evangelists, who were perfectly 
cognizant of the whole, were, in a manner, independent of any written records. Besides, 
the troubles which shortly after befell their native land, and which were distinctly fore- 
seen by the founders of the Christian faith, destined, as they were, to scatter the power 
of the Jewish nation, and to render its land and people monuments of judgment, pre- 
sented an anticipative reason against committing the sacred and permanent records of 
the Christian faith to the Hebrew language. That language itself, already corrupted and 
broken, was presently to become to all but the merest fragment of the Jews themselves, 
antiquated and obsolete. The real centers of Christianity — the places where it took 
firmest root, and from which it sent forth its regenerating power among the nations — 
from the time that authoritative records of its facts and expositions of its doctrines 
became necessary — were to be found in Greek-speaking communities— the communities 
scattered throughout the cities of Asia Minor, of Greece, at Pome, and the West — where 



THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 59 

also the first converts to the Christian faith consisted chiefly of those whose native 
tongue was Greek. Whether, therefore, respect were had to the immediate wants of the 
first Christian communities, or to the quarters in which the Gospel was to find its most 
active agents and representatives, and the direction it was appointed to take in the 
world, the Greek was obviously the language in which its original and authoritative 
documents behooved to be written. Whatever reasons there were for the adherents of 
Judaism getting the Scriptures of the Old Testament into Greek ; whatever reasons, also, 
Josephus could have for translating into Greek his Jewish histories, and the authors of 
the apocryphal writings for adopting that language in preference to the Aramaic, the 
same reasons existed, and in far greater force, for the inspired writings, which were to 
form, in earlier and later times, the fundamental records of the Christian faith, being 
composed in the Greek language, and in that language committed to the faithful keeping 
of the Church. Had they not been originally composed in Greek, the course of Provi- 
dence would presently have required that they should be translated into Greek; and 
considering how much depended on the correct knowledge of them, and how many 
sources we have for illustrating Greek, as compared with Aramaic productions, it was 
unspeakably better that, from the first, they should have appeared in a Greek form." 

§ 15. Some other Characteristics of the Style is which the Gospels are Written. 

1. The style of the Gospels, apart from the peculiar dialect of Greek in which they 
were written, is totally devoid of ornament; it presents no beautiful transitions from one 
subject to another; the ear is not charmed with the melody of harmonious periods; the 
imagination is not fired with grand epithets. In short, we find in the Gospels the sim- 
plicity of writers who were more intent upon things than upon words; we find men of 
plain education honestly relating what they knew, without attempting to adorn their 
narratives by any elegance of diction. And this is precisely the kind of writing which 
we should expect from the persons to whom those books are ascribed. 

2. The Gospels are not proper histories ; that is, they do not furnish a full and satis- 
factory account of the ministry of Jesus to one previously unacquainted with the essen- 
tial facts concerning it. Either individually or collectively, they present only a brief 
narrative of some of the most striking events in our Lord's ministry, and these told by 
the writers, for the most part, nakedly and in a few words. No skill is shown by any 
one of the Evangelists in connecting the different parts so as to form a continuous his- 
tory. No explanations are given, except a few, which are parenthetical and unimportant. 
With the exception of some passages in John's Gospel, there is no comment on any thing 
told which discovers the writer's feelings or state of mind. This peculiar] ty of the Gos- 
pels furnishes another proof that they could not have been forged, no more than they 
could have been written by men whose imaginations had been strongly excited by some 
extraordinary delusion. 

3. We discover in the Gospel narratives a striking consistency with that which the 
Evangelists do not state expressly. This striking consistency has been presented by Mr. 
Norton in detail ; it is sufficient to quote from him the leading features : 

In the narratives of the Evangelists, the existence of many facts Avhich are not 
expressly mentioned is implied. In order to understand fully what is told, and to per- 
ceive its bearing and application, we must take into view very much that is not told. 
There is to be found in almost every part of the Gospels a latent reference to some 
existing state of things which is not described. But when we attend to the character of 
those facts with which different portions of the narrative are thus connected, we find 
that they are all probable or certain ; that we have distinct evidence of them from other 
sources, or that they are such as must or might have existed. The inferences from these 
histories, though many and various, are all consistent with the histories themselves, and 



60 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 

whatever we can learn from other sources. In tracing out the necessary or probable 
bearing of those actions and discourses which are recorded, or in assigning their probable 
occasions or consequences, we detect no inconsistency with the history itself, and find no 
contradiction of known facts ; but, on the contrary, we are continually perceiving new 
marks of probability and truth. This coincidence between what is told and what is 
implied does not appear here and there only, but discovers itself throughout the Gospels. 
But such a consistency of the narrative with itself can evidently not be the work of study 
or artifice. The Gospels are very inartificial compositions, and if the coincidences had 
been intended to give an air of probability to the narrative, the writer would have 
taken care that they should be noticed by the reader. The just and lively conception — 
which the writers of the Gospels evidently possessed of those numerous facts and circum- 
stances that must or might have existed, if their history be true — admits of no other ex- 
planation, than that the narratives rest on the authority of those who were witnesses of 
what is related, and were themselves concerned in the transactions recorded. It follows, 
therefore, that these histories were committed to writing either by some of the immediate 
disciples of Christ, or by persons who derived, generally speaking, correct and particular 
information from such disciples. And if this conclusion is reached, there is no room left 
to doubt that they are the works of those particular individuals to whom they have 
always been ascribed. 

We discover, therefore, in the characteristics of the Gospels which we have described, 
another mode in which it has pleased God to preserve to us in the very books themselves 
the evidence of their authenticity. Such is their incompleteness, that they are neces- 
sarily complicated with a great body of circumstantial evidence of the most unsuspicious 
kind. Thus, what we might consider as their defects, when regarded merely as literary 
compositions, contribute greatly to enhance their value. 

§ 16. The Frequent Allusions op the Evangelists to the History op their Times. 

"Whoever," says Michaelis, "undertakes to forge a set of writings, and ascribe them 
to persons who lived in a former period, exposes himself to the utmost danger of a dis- 
cordancy with the history and manners of the age to which his accounts are referred; 
and this danger increases in proportion as they relate to points not mentioned in general 
history, but to such as belong only to a single city, sect, religion, or school. Of all books 
that ever were written, there is none, if the historical books of the New Testament are a 
forgery, so liable to detection; the scene of action is not confined to a single country, but 
displayed in the greatest cities of the Roman Empire ; allusions are made to the various 
manners and principles of the Greeks, the Romans, and the Jews, which are carried so 
far with respect to this last nation, as to extend even to the trifles and follies of their 
schools. A Greek or Roman Christian, who lived in the second or third century, though 
ever so well versed in the writings of the ancients, would still have been wanting in 
Jewish literature; and a Jewish convert in those ages, even the most learned rabbi, 
would have been equally deficient in the knowledge of Greece and Rome. If, then, the 
historical books of the New Testament thus exposed to detection— had it been an impos- 
ture — are found after the severest researches to harmonize with the history, the manners, 
and the opinions of the first century; and since the more minutely we inquire, the more 
perfect we find the coincidence, we must conclude that they were written in the age in 
which they profess to have been written." 

The numerous incidental allusions to the civil history of the times, which the Gospels 
and the Acts furnish, and which are most strikingly verified by profane writers, have 
been most carefully collated by Mr. George Rawlinson in his "Historical Evidences of the 
Truth of the Scripture Records." He groups them under two heads, considering, first, 
all such as bear upon the general condition of the countries, which were the scene of 



THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 61 

the history, and, secondly, such as have reference to the civil rulers, who are represented 
as exercising authority in the countries at the time of the narrative, as follows: 

I. The political condition of Palestine at the time to which the New Testament nar- 
rative properly belongs, was one curiously complicated and anomalous; it underwent 
frequent changes, but retained through all of them certain peculiarities, which made the 
position of the country unique among the dependencies of Eome. Not having been 
conquered in the ordinary way, but having passed under the Roman dominion with the 
consent and by the assistance of a large party among the inhabitants, it was allowed to 
maintain, for a while, a species of semi-independence, not unlike that of various native 
States in India, which are really British dependencies. A mixture, and to some extent 
an alternation, of Roman with native power resulted from this arrangement, and a con- 
sequent complication in the political status, which must have made it very difficult to be 
thoroughly understood by any one who was not a native and a cotemporary. The 
chief representative of the Roman power in the East — the President of Syria, the local 
Governor, whether a Herod or a Roman procurator, and the high-priest, had each and 
all certain rights and a certain authority in the country. A double system of taxation, 
a double administration of justice, and even in some degree a double military command, 
were the natural consequence, while Jewish and Roman customs, Jewish and Roman 
words, were simultaneously in use, and a condition of things existed full of harsh 
contrasts, strange mixtures, and abrupt transitions. Within the space of fifty years 
Palestine was a single united kingdom under a native ruler, a set of principalities under 
native ethnarchs and tetrarchs, a country in part containing such principalities, in part 
reduced to the condition of a Roman province, a kingdom reunited once more under a 
native sovereign, and a country reduced wholly under Rome, and governed by procura- 
tors dependent on the President of Syria, but still subject in certain respects to the 
Jewish monarch of a neighboring territory. These facts we know from Josephus, and 
other writers, who, though less accurate, on the whole confirm his statements; they ren- 
der the civil history of Judea during this period one very difficult to master and remem- 
ber; the frequent changes, supervening upon the original complication, are a fertile 
source of confusion, and seems to have bewildered even the sagacious and painstaking 
Tacitus. The New Testament narrative, however, falls into no error in treating of the 
period; it marks, incidentally and without effort or pretension, the various changes in 
the civil government — the sole kingdom of Herod the Great, (Matt, ii, 1 ; Luke i, 5 ;) 
the partition of his dominions among his sons, (Matt, ii, 22; xiv, 1; Luke iii, 1 ;) the 
reduction of Judea to the condition of a Roman province, while Galilee, Iturea, and 
Trachonitis continued under native princes, (Luke iii, 1;) the restoration of the old 
kingdom of Palestine, in the person of Agrippa the First, (Acts xii, 1, etc.,) and the final 
reduction of the whole under Roman rule, and re-establishment of procurators, (Acts 
xxiii, 24; xxiv, 27, etc.,) as the civil heads, while a species of ecclesiastical superintend- 
ence was exercised by Agrippa the Second, (Acts xxv, 14, etc.) Again, the New Testa- 
ment narrative exhibits in the most remarkable way the mixture in the government — 
the occasional power of the President of Syria, as shown in Cyrenius's "taxing," (Luke 
ii, 2; compare Acts v, 37;) the ordinary division of authority between the high-priest 
and the procurator, (Matt, xxvii, 1, 2; Acts xxii, 30; xxiii, 1-10;) the existence of two 
separate taxations — the civil and the ecclesiastical — the "census," (Matt, xvii, 17,) and the 
"didrachm," (Matt, xvii, 24;) of two tribunals, (John xviii, 28, 32, etc.,) two modes of 
capital punishment, two military forces, (Matt, xvii, 64, 65,) two methods of marking 
time, (Luke iii, 11;) at every turn it shows, even in such little matters as verbal expres 
sions, the coexistence of Jewish with Roman ideas and practices in the country — a coex- 
istence which, it must be remembered, came to an end within forty years of our Lord's 
crucifixion. The general tone and temper of the Jews at the time, their feelings tow r ard 
the Romans, and toward their neighbors, their internal divisions and sects, their confi- 



62 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



dent expectation of a deliverer, are represented by Josephus, and other writers, in a 
manner which very strikingly accords with the account incidentally given by the 
Evangelists. The extreme corruption and wickedness, not only of the mass of the 
people, but even of the rulers and chief men, is asserted by Josephus in~the strongest 
terms;* while, at the same time, he testifies to the existence among them of a species of 
zeal for religion, a readiness to attend the feasts,f a regularity in the offering of sacri- 
fice,! an almost superstitious regard for the Temple,§ and fanatic abhorrence of all who 
sought to "change the customs which Moses had delivered," (Acts vi, 14.) The con- 
spiracy against Herod the Great, when ten men bound themselves by an oath to kill 
him, and, having armed themselves with short daggers, which they hid under their 
clothes, entered into the theater where they expected Herod to arrive, intending, if he 
came, to fall upon him and dispatch him with their weapons, || breathes the identical 
spirit of that against Paul, which the promptness of the chief captain, Lysias, alone frus- 
trated, (Acts xxiii, 12-31.) "We find, from Josephus, that there was a warm controversy 
among the Jews themselves as to the lawfulness of "giving tribute to Csesar,"^[ (Matt, 
xxii, 17;) that the Samaritans were hostile to such of the Galileans as had their "faces 
set to go to Jerusalem," (Luke ix, 51;) that on one occasion, at least, they fell upon those 
who were journeying through their land to attend a feast, and murdered a large num- 
ber;** that the Pharisees and Sadducees were noted sects, distinguished by the tenets 
which in Scripture are assigned to themjff that the Pharisees were the more popular, 
and persuaded the common people as they pleased, while the Sadducees were important 
chiefly as men of high rank and station ; JJ and that a general expectation, founded upon 

* Joseph., De Bell. Jud., vii, 8, \ 1 : "For that time was fruitful among the Jews in all sorts of wickedness, so 
that they left no evil deed undone ; nor was there any new form of wickedness which any one could invent if he 
wished to do so. Thus they were all corrupt both in their public and their private relations ; and they vied with 
each other who should excel in impiety toward God and injustice to men. The more powerful oppressed the com- 
mon people, and the common people eagerly sought to destroy the more powerful, for the former class were governed 
by the love of power, and the latter by the desire to seize and plunder the possessions of the wealthy." (Comjjare 
Ant. Jud., xx, 7, I 8; Bell. Jud., v, 13, § 6 ; and 10, § 5.) 

f Joseph., Ant. Jud., xvii, 9, § 3 ; xx, 4, $ 3 ; Bell. Jud., ii, 19, # 1, etc. On one occasion it appears that more than 
two and a half millions of persons had come up to Jerusalem to worship. (Bell. Jud., vi, 9, $ 3.) 

% Ant. Jud., xv, 7, § 8 : "In Jerusalem there were two fortresses, one belonging to the city itself, and the other 
to the Temple. Whoever held these had the whole nation in their power; for without the command of these, it was 
not possible to offer the sacrifices; and no Jew could endure the thought that these should fail to be offered; they 
were even ready sooner to lay down their lives than omit the sacrifices which they were accustomed to ofl'er to God. 

$ Not only was Caligula's attempt to have his statue set up in the Temple resisted with determination, (Joseph., 
Ant. Jud., xviii, 8,) but when the younger Agrippa, by raising the hight of his house, obtained a view into the 
Temple courts, the greatest indignation was felt. The Jews immediately raised a wall to shut out his prospect, 
and when Festus commanded them to remove it, they positively refused, declaring that they would rather die than 
destroy any portion of the sacred fabric. (See Ant. Jud., xx, 8, § 11, and on the general subject compare Philo, 
De Legat. ad Caium pp. 1022, 1023.) 

|| Ant. Jud., xv, 8, \\ 1-4. 

^f Josephus tells us that when Cyrenius came to take the census of men's properties throughout Judea, a contro- 
versy arose among the Jews on the legality of submission to foreign taxation. Judas of Galilee (Acts v, 37) 
maintained that it was a surrender of the theocratic principle ; while the bulk of the chief men, including some 
considerable number of the Pharisees, took the opposite view, and persuaded the people to submit themselves. 
(Ant. Jud., xviii, 1, j? 1.) 

•*'*' Ant. Jud., xx, 6, § 1 : " Now, there arose an enmity between the Samaritans and the Jews, from the following 
cause : The Galileans were accustomed, in going up to the feasts that were held in Jerusalem, to pass through the 
country of the Samaritans. At this time there was, on the road which they took, a village called Ginea, situated 
on the boundary between Samaria and the great plain. When the Galileans came to this place they were attacked, 
and many of them killed. 

|f Ant. Jud., xviii, 1, g§ 3, 4. Note especially the following: Of the Pharisees — "They believe that souls 
have immortal vigor, and that beyond the grave there are rewards and punishments, according as they follow a 
virtuous or a vicious course of life in this world." Of the Sadducees — "But the doctrine of the Sadducees is, that 
the soul is annihilated together with the body." (Compare Acts xxiii, 8.) 

\\ Ant. Jud., I, s. c. [The Pharisees] " are very influential with the people ; and whatever prayers to God or 
sacrifices are performed, are performed at their dictation. The doctrine (of the Sadducees) is received by but few : 
but these are the men who are in the highest authority." 



THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 63 

the prophecies of the Old Testament, existed among the Jews during the Eoman war, that 
a great king was about to rise up, in the East, of their own race and country.* This last 
fact is confirmed by both Suetoniusf and Tacitus,| and is one which even Strauss does not 
venture to dispute. It would be easy to point out a further agreement between the Evan- 
gelical historians and profane writers with respect to the manners and customs of the Jews 
at this period. There is scarcely a matter of this kind noted in the New Testament, which 
may not be confirmed from Jewish sources, such as Josephus, Philo, and the Mishna. 
The points of agreement hitherto adduced have had reference to the Holy Land and its 
inhabitants. It is not, however, in this connection only that the accuracy of the Evan- 
gelical writers in their accounts of the general condition of those countries which are the 
scene of their history is observable. Their descriptions of the Greek and Eoman world, 
so far as it comes under their cognizance, are most accurate. ~No where have the char- 
acter of the Athenians and the general appearance of Athens been more truthfully and 
skillfully portrayed than in the few verses of the Acts which contain the account of 
Paul's visit. The people — "Athenians and strangers spending their time in nothing but 
hearing or telling of some new thing," (Acts xvii, 21;) philosophizing and disputing on 
Mars' Hill and in the market-place, (ibid., verse 17,) glad to discuss, though disinclined 
to believe, (Acts xvii, 32, 33,) and yet religious withal, standing in honorable contrast 
with the other Greeks in respect of their reverence for things divine, (ibid., verse 22) — 
are put before us with all the vividness of life, just as they present themselves to our 
view in the pages of their own historians and orators.§ Again, how striking, and how 
thoroughly classical is the account of the tumult at Ephesus, (Acts xix, 23,) where almost 
every word receives illustration from ancient coins and inscriptions, as has been excel- 
lently shown in a recent work of great merit on the life of Paul.[| Or, if we turn to 
Eome and the Eoman system, how truly do we find depicted the great and terrible 
emperor, whom all feared to provoke — the provincial administration by proconsuls and 
others chiefly anxious that tumults should be prevented — the contemptuous religious 
tolerance — the noble principle of Eoman law, professed, if not always acted on, whereby 

* Bell. Jud., vi, 5, j3 4. "But that which most of all roused them to undertake this war, was an ambiguous 
oracle, . . . found in their sacred books, that, at that time, a man of their country should rule over the whole 
earth." 

fSuet., Vit. Vespasian., \ 4: "An ancient and settled opinion had prevailed throughout the whole East, that 
fate had decreed that at that time persons proceeding from Judea should become masters of the world. This was 
foretold, as the event afterward proved, of the Roman emperor ; but the Jews applied it to themselves, and this 
was the cause of their rebellion." (Compare Vit. Octav., # 94, and Virg. Eclog., iv.) 

% Tacit. Histor., v, 13 : " These things [the prodigies that occurred just before the capture of Jerusalem by the 
Romans] were regarded by a few as alarming omens ; but the greater number believed that it was written in the 
ancient books of the priests, that at that very time the East should become very powerful, and that persons pro- 
ceeding from Judea should become masters of the world." 

$ How attractive to strangers Athens was, even in her decline, may be seen from the examples of Cicero, Ger- 
manicus, Pausanias, and others. (See Conybeare and Howson's Life of St. Paul, vol. i, pp. 398, 399.) On the 
greediness of the Athenians after novelty see Demost. Philipp., i, p. 43, ("Or tell me, do you wish to go about ask- 
ing each other in the market-place, What is the news? And can there be any thing newer than that the man of 
Macedon," etc. ;) Philipp. Epist., pp. 156, 157; ^Elian., Var. Hist., v, 13; Sehol. ad Thucy., iii, 38, etc. On their 
religiousness, compare Pausan., i, 24, \ 3, (the Athenians are more zealous than others in the worship of gods;) 
Xen., Rep. Atheniens., iii, ?,% 1, 8; Joseph., Contra Apion., ii, 11, ("All say that the Athenians are the most 
religious of the Greeks;") Strab., v, 3, g 18; .Lilian., Var. Hist., v, 17; Philostrat, Vit. Appollon.,- vi, 3; and 
among later authors, see Mr. Grote's History of Greece, vol. iii, pp. 229-232. 

|| See the Life and Epistles of St. Paul by Messrs. Conybeare and Howson, vol. ii, pp. 66, etc. (1.) The "Great 
Goddess Diana" is found to have borne that title as her usual title, both from an inscription, (Boeckh, Corpus 
Inscript., 2,963,) and from Xenophon, (Ephes., i, p. 15,) "I invoke our ancestral God, the Great Diana of the 
Ephesians." (2.) The Asiarchs are mentioned on various coins and inscriptions. (3.) The town-clerk (ypa/jixa- 
r««) of Ephesus is likewise mentioned in inscriptions. (Boeckh, No. 2,963, No. 2,966, and No. 2,990.) (4.) The 
curious word i/eowcdpos, (Acts xix, 35,) literally "sweeper" of the temple, is also found in inscriptions and coins, a3 
an epithet of the Ephesian people. Boeckh, No. 2,966.) The "silver shrines of Diana," the "court-days," the 
"deputies" or "proconsuls," (iv9viraToi,) might receive abundant classical illustration. The temple was the glory 
of the ancient world; enough still remains of the "theater" to give evidence of its former greatness. 



64 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



accusers and accused were brought "face to face," and the latter had free "license to 
answer for themselves concerning the crimes laid against them," (Acts xxv, 16) — the 
privileges of Eoman citizenship, sometimes acquired by birth, sometimes by purchase— 
the right of appeal possessed and exercised by the provincials — the treatment of pris- 
oners—the peculiar manner of chaining them— the employment of soldiers as their 
guards— the examination by torture— the punishment of condemned persons not being 
Eoman citizens by scourging and crucifixion— the manner of this punishment— the prac- 
tice of bearing the cross, of affixing a title or superscription, of placing soldiers under a 
centurion to watch the carrying into effect of this sentence, of giving the garments of the 
sufferer to these persons, of allowing the bodies after death to be buried by the friends— 
and the like! The sacred historians are as familiar not only with the general character, 
but even with some of the obscurer customs of Greece and Eome, as with those of their 
own country. Fairly observant and always faithful in their accounts, they continually 
bring before us little points which accord minutely with notices in profane Avriters 
nearly cotemporary with them, while occasionally they increase our knowledge of classic 
antiquity by touches harmonious with its spirit, but additional to the information which 
we derive from the native authorities* Again, it has been well remarked that the con- 
dition of the Jews beyond the limits of Palestine is represented by the Evangelical 
writers very agreeably to what may be gathered of it from Jewish and heathen sources. 
The wide dispersion of the chosen race is one of the facts most evident upon the surface 
of the New Testament history. "Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and dwellers in 
Mesopotamia, and Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus, and Asia, Phrj^gia, and Pamphylia, in 
Egypt, and in the parts of Lybia about Cyrene, strangers of Eome, Cretes, and Arabians," 
(Acts ii, 9-11,) are said to have been witnesses, at Jerusalem, of the first outpourings of 
the Holy G-host. In the travels of Paul through Asia Minor and Greece, there is scarcely 

* Among minute points of accordance may be especially noticed the following: 1. The geographical accuracy. 
(1.) Compare the divisions of Asia Minor mentioned in the Acts with those in Pliny. Phrygia, Galatia, Lycaonia, 
Cilieia, Pamphylia, Pisidia, Asia, Mysia, Bithynia, are all recognized as existing provinces by the Roman geog- 
rapher writing probably within a few years of Luke. (2.) The division of European Greece into the two provinces 
of Macedonia and Achaia, (Acts xix, 24, etc.,) accords exactly with the arrangement of Augustus noticed in Strabo, 
(xvii, ad fin.) (3.) The various tracts in or about Palestine belong exactly to the geography of the time, and of no 
other. Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Trachonitis, Iturea, Abilene, Decapolis, are recognized as geographically distinct 
at this period by the Jewish and classical writers. (See Plin., H. N., v, 14, 18, 23 ; Strab., xvi, §g 10, 11, 34 ; Joseph., 
Ant. Jud., xix, 5, \ 1, etc.) (4.) The routes mentioned are such as were in use at the time. The "ship of Alexan- 
dria," which, conveying Paul to Rome, lands him at Puteoli, follows the ordinary course of the Alexandrian corn- 
ships, as mentioned by Strabo, (xvii, 1, § 7,) Philo, (in Place., pp. 968-9,) and Seneca, (Bpist. 77,) and touches at 
customary harbors. (See Sueton., Vit. Tit., $ 25.) Paul's journey from Troas by Neapolis to Philippi presents an 
exact parallel to that of Ignatius, sixty years later, (Martyr. Ignat., c. 5.) His passage through Amphipolis and 
Apollonia, on his road from Philippi to Thessalonica, is in accordance with the Itinerary of Antoine, which places 
those towns on the route between the two cities. (5.) The mention of Philippi as the first city of Macedonia to one 
approaching from the Bast, ("the chief city of that part of Macedonia," Acts xvi, 12,) is correct, since there was 
no other between it and Neapolis. The statement that it was a " colony " is also true, (Dio. Cass., Ii, 4, p. 445, D.; 
Plin., H. N., iv, 11; Strab., vii, Fr., 41.) 2. The minute political knowledge. (1.) We have already seen the 
intimate knowledge exhibited of the state of Ephesus, with its proconsul, town-clerks, Asiarohs, etc. A similar 
exactitude appears in the designation of the chief magistrates of Thessalonica as " the rulers of the city," (Acts 
xvii, 6,) their pi-oper and peculiar appellation. (Boeckh, Corp. Inscr., No. 1,967.) (2.) So, too, the Roman Govern- 
ors of Corinth and Cyprus are given their correct titles. (3.) Publius, the Roman Governor of Malta, has again 
his proper technical designation, ("the chief man of the island," Acts xxviii, 7,) as appears from inscriptions com- 
memorating the chief of the Melitans, or " Melitensium primus." See Alford ii, p. 282.) (4.) The delivery of the 
prisoners to the "captain of the [Praetorian] guard" at Rome is in strict accordance with the practice of the time. 
(Trajan, ap. Plin., Ep. x, 65: "He ought to be sent bound to the Prefects of my Praetorian guard.") Compare 
Philostrat., Vit. Sophist., ii, 32. Among additions to our classical knowledge for which we are indebted to Scripture 
it may suffice to mention, 1. The existence of an Italian cohort, (the Italian band,) as early as the reign of Tibe- 
rius, (Acts x, 1.) 2. The application of the term Sepacrri), (Augustan,) to another cohort, a little later, (Acts xxviii, 
1.) 3. The existence of an altar at Athens with the inscription, "To the unknown God," (Acts xvii, 23,) which is 
not to be confounded with the well-known inscriptions to unknown gods. 4. The use of the title orpcmj-yoi (Prae- 
tors) by the Duumviri or chief magistrates of Philippi, (Acts xvi, 20.) We know from Cicero, (De Leg. Agrar., 34,) 
that the title was sometimes assumed in such cases, but we have no other proof that it was in use at Philippi. 



THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 65 

a city to which he comes but has a large body of Jewish residents. Compare with these 
representations the statements of Agrippa the First, in his letter to Caligula, as reported 
by the Jewish writer, Philo. "The Holy City, the place of my nativity," he says, "is 
the metropolis, not of Judea only, but of most other countries, by means of the colonies 
which have been sent out of it from time to time; some to the neighboring countries of 
Egypt, Phoenicia, Syria, Coelo-Syria — some to more distant regions, as Pamphylia, Cilicia, 
Asia as far as Bithynia, and the recesses of Pontus — and in Europe, Thessaly, Boeotia, 
Macedonia, iEtolia, Attica, Argos, Corinth, together with the most famous of the islands, 
Eubcea, Cyprus, and Crete, to say nothing of those who dwell beyond the Euphrates. 
For, excepting a small part of the Babylonian, and other satrapies, all the countries 
which have a fertile territory possess Jewish inhabitants; so that, if thou shalt show 
this kindness to my native place, thou wilt benefit not one city only, but thousands in 
every region of the world, in Europe, in Asia, in Africa — on the continents, and in the 
islands — on the shores of the sea, and in the interior." In a similar strain, Philo him- 
self boasts, that "one region does not contain the Jewish people, since it is exceedingly 
numerous; but there are many of them in almost all the flourishing countries of Europe 
and Asia, both continental and insular." And the customs of these dispersed Jews are 
accurately represented in the New Testament. That they consisted in part of native 
Jews, in part of converts or proselytes, is evident from Josephus ;* that they had places 
of worship, called synagogues or oratories, in the towns where they lived, appears from 
Philo; that these were commonly by the seaside, as represented in the Acts, (Acts xvi, 
13,) is plain from many authors ;f that they had also — at least sometimes — a synagogue 
belonging to them at Jerusalem, whither they resorted at the time of the feasts, is certain 
from the Talmudical writers; that at Eome they consisted in great part of freed men, or 
"Libertines," whence the synagogue of the Libertines, (Acts vi, 9,) may be gathered 
from Philo and Tacitus. Their bearing toward the apostolic preachers is such as we 
should expect from persons whose close contact with those of a different religion made 
them all the more zealous for their own; and their tumultuous proceedings are in accord- 
ance with all that we learn from profane authors of the tone and temper of the Jews 
generally at this period. J 

II. The civil governors and administrators distinctly mentioned by the New Testa- 
ment historians are the following: the Eoman Emperors Augustus, Tiberius, and Clau- 
dius; the Jewish Kings and Princes, Herod the Great, Archelaus, Herod the Tetrarch, 
(or as he is commonly called, Herod Antipas,) Philip the Tetrarch, Herod Agrippa the 
First, and Herod Agrippa the Second; the Eoman Governors, Cyrenius, (or Quirinius,) 
Pontius Pilate, Sergius Paulus, Gallio, Festus, and Felix, and the Greek Tetrarch, Lysa- 
nias. It may be shown from profane sources, in almost every case, that these persons 
existed; that they lived at the time, and bore the offices assigned to them; that they 
were related to each other, when any relationship is stated, as Scripture declares; and 
that the actions ascribed to them are either actually such as they performed, or at least 
in perfect harmony with what profane history tells us of their characters. 

The Jewish kings and princes, whose names occur in the New Testament narrative, 
occupy a far more prominent place in it than the Eoman emperors. The Gospel narra- 
tive opens, "In the days of Herod the King," (Matt, ii, 1; Luke i, 5;) who, as the father 

* Joseph., Ant. Jud., xx, 2; De Bell. Jud., vii, 3, \ 3; Contr. Apion., ii, 36, etc. 

■\ Philo frequently mentions the synagogue under the name of " places of prayer." (In Place., p. 972, A., B., 
E.; Legat. in Caium, p. 1,014, etc.) Their position by the seaside or by a riverside is indicated, among other places, 
in the Decree of the Halicarnassians reported by Josephus, (Ant. Jud., xiv, 10, $ 23,) where the Jews are allowed to 
offer prayers by the seaside according to their national custom. See also Philo, Legat. in Caium, p. 982, D. ; Ter- 
tull. ad Nat., i, 13 ; and Juv. Sat., iii, 13. 

J For the tumultuous spirit of the foreign Jews, see Sueton., Vit. Claud., p. 25 ; Dio Cassius, lx, 6 ; Joseph., 
Aut. Jud. xviii, 8, g 1 ; 9, § 9 ; xx, 1, \ 1, etc. 

5 



66 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



of Archelaus, (Matt, ii, 22,) may be identified with the first monarch of the name, the 
son of Antipater the Idumean. This monarch is known to have reigned in Palestine 
cotemporaneously with Augustus, who confirmed him in his kingdom, and of whom he 
held the sovereignty till his decease. Cunning, suspicion, and cruelty are the chief traits 
of his character, as depicted in Scripture, and these are among his most marked charac- 
teristics in Josephus.* The consistency of the massacre at Bethlehem with his temper 
and disposition is now acknowledged ;f skepticism has nothing to urge against it, except 
the silence of the Jewish writers, which is a weak argument, if it is not outweighed by 
the testimony, albeit somewhat late and perhaps inaccurate, of Macrobius.J 

At the death of Herod the Great his kingdom — according to Josephus — was divided 
with the consent of Augustus, among three of his sons. Archelaus received Judea, 
Samaria, and Idumea, with the title of ethnarch; Philip and Antipas were made 
tetrarchs, and received, the latter Galilee and Perea, the former Trachonitis and the 
adjoining regions.§ The notices of the Evangelists are confessedly in complete accord- 
ance with these statements. Matthew mentions the succession of Archelaus in Judea, 
and implies that he did not reign in Galilee, (Matt, ii, 22.) Luke records Philip's 
tetrarchy, (Luke iii, 1;) while the tetrarchy of Antipas, who is designated by his family 
name of Herod, is distinctly asserted by both Evangelists, (Matt, xiv, 1.) Moreover, 
Matthew implies that Archelaus bore a bad character at the time of his accession, or 
soon afterward, which is consistent with the account of Josephus, who tells us that he 
was hated by the other members of his own family; and that shortly after his father's 
death he slew three thousand Jews, on account of a tumult at Jerusalem. The first 
three Evangelists agree as to the character of Herod Antipas, which is weak, rather than 
cruel or bloodthirsty; and their portraiture is granted to be "not inconsistent with his 
character, as gathered from other sources." The facts of his adultery with Herodias, the 
wife of one of his brothers, || and of his execution of John the Baptist for no crime that 

* The cruelties, deceptions, and suspicions of Herod the Great fill many chapters in Josephus. (Ant. Jud., xt, 
1, 3, 6, 7, etc. ; xvi, 4, 8, 10; xvii, 3, 6, 7, etc.) His character is thus summed up by that writer: "He was a man 
cruel to all alike, yielding to the impulse of passion, but regardless of the claims of justice; and yet no one was 
ever favored with a more propitious fortune." (Ant. Jud., xvii, 8, $ 1.) His arrest of the chief men throughout 
his dominion, and design that on his demise they should all be executed, (Ibid., 6, § 5; Bell. Jud., i, 33, § 6,) 
shows a bloodier temper than even the massacre of the Innocents. 

"j" Strauss grants the massacre to be " not inconsistent with the disposition of the aged tyrant to the extent that 
Schleiermacher supposed," but objects that "neither Josephus, who is very minute in his account of Herod, nor the 
rabbins, who were assiduous in blackening his memory, give the slightest hint of this decree." He omits to 
observe, that they could scarcely narrate the circumstance without some mention of its reason — the birth of the 
supposed Messiah — a subject on which their prejudices necessarily kept them silent. 

JMacrob., Saturnal., ii, 4: "When Augustus had heard that among the children under two years of age whom 
Herod, the king of the Jews, had commanded to be slain in Syria, there was also one of the king's own sons, 
he said it was better to be the sow than the son of Herod;" Strauss contends that "the passage loses all 
credit by confounding the execution of Antipater, who had gray hairs, with the murder of the infants renowned 
among the Christians ;" but Maerobius says nothing of Antipater, and evidently does not refer to any of the known 
sons of Herod. He believes that among the children massacred was an infant son of the Jewish king. It is im- 
possible to say whether he was right or wrong in this belief. It may have simply originated in the fact that a 
jealousy of a royal infant was known to have been the motive for the massacre. (See Olshausen, Biblic. Com- 
ment., vol. i, p. 72, note, p. 67, E. T.) 

\ Josephus says, " When Csesar had heard these things he dissolved the assembly, and a few days after he 
appointed Archelaus, not indeed king, but ethnarch of half the country which had been subject to Herod, and the 
other half he divided, and gave it to two other sons of Herod, Philip, and Antipas, ... to the latter of whom 
he made Perea and Galilee subject, . . . while Batanea with Trachonitis and Auranitis, with a certain part of 
what is called the House of Zenadorus, were subjected to Philip ; but the parts subject to Archelaus were Idumea, 
and Judea, and Samaria." (Antiq. Jud., xvii, 11, § 4.) Compare the brief notice of Tacitus : " The country which 
had been subdued was governed, in three divisions, by the sons of Herod." (Hist., v, 9.) 

|| Josephus says, " Herod the tetrarch had married the daughter of Aretas, and had now lived with her a long 
time. But having made a journey to Rome, he lodged in the house of Herod, his brother, but not by the same 
mother. For this Herod was the son of the daughter of Simon, the high-priest. Now, he fell in love with Herodias, 
this man's wife, who was the daughter of Aristobulus, their brother, and the sister of Agrippa the Great; and he 



THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 67 

could be alleged against him, are recorded by Josephus ;* and though in the latter case 
there is some apparent diversity in the details, yet it is allowed that the different accounts 
may be reconciled. f The continuance of the tetrarchy of Philip beyond the fifteenth, 
and that of Antipas beyond the eighteenth of Tiberius, is confirmed by Josephus,J who 
also shows that the ethnarchy of Archelaus came speedily to an end, and that Judea was 
then reduced to the condition of a Roman province, and governed for a considerable 
space by procurators. However, after a while, the various dominions of Herod the 
Great were reunited in the person of his grandson, Agrippa, the son of Aristobulus and 
brother of Herodias, who was allowed the title of king, and was in favor with both 
Caligula and Claudius. It can not be doubted that this person is the "Herod the King" 
of the Acts, (Acts xii, 1,) whose persecution of the Church, whose impious pride, and 
whose miserable death, are related at length by the sacred historian. Josephus records, 
with less accuracy of detail than Luke, the striking circumstances of this monarch's 
decease — -the "set day," the public assemblage, the "royal dress," the impious flattery, its 
complacent reception, the sudden judgment, the excruciating disease, the speedy death.g 

had the boldness to propose marriage. She accepted the proposal, and it was agreed that she should go to live 
with him whenever he should return from Rome." (Ant. Jud., xviii, 5, $ 1.) And again : " Herodias, their sister, 
was married to Herod, the son of Herod the Great, who was horn of Mariamne, the daughter of Simon the high- 
priest, who had also a daughter Salome ; after the birth of whom Herodias, in shameful violation of the customs 
of our nation, allowed herself to marry Herod, the brother of her former husband by the same father, separating 
from him while he was living. Now this man [whom she married] held the office of tetrarch of Galilee." 
(Ibid., §4.) 

* Ant. Jud., xviii, 5, § 2 : " Now some of the Jews thought that the army of Herod had been destroyed by God, 
in most righteous vengeance for the punishment inflicted upon John, surnamed the Baptist. For he taught the Jews 
to cultivate virtue, and to practice righteousness toward each other and piety toward God, and so to come to bap- 
tism. For he declared that this dipping would be acceptable to Him, if they used it not with reference to the 
renunciation of certain sins, but to the purification of the body, the soul having been purified by righteousness. And 
when others thronged to him — for they were profoundly moved at the hearing of his words — Herod feared that 
his great influence over the men would lead them to some revolt, for they seemed ready to do any thing by his 
advice ; he, therefore, thought it much better to anticipate the evil, by putting him to death, before he had 
attempted to make any innovation, than to allow himself to be brought into trouble and then repent after some 
revolutionary movement had commenced. And so John, in consequence of the suspicion of Herod, was sent as a 
prisoner to the aforementioned castle of Macha;rus, and was there put to death." The genuineness of this passage 
is admitted even by Strauss. (Leben Jesu, $ 48; vol. i, pp. 344-47, E. T.) 

f This even Strauss admits. The chief points of apparent difference are the motive of the imprisonment and 
the scene of the execution. Josephus makes fear of a popular insurrection, the Evangelists offense at a personal 
rebuke, the motive. But in this there is no contradiction, for Antipas might well fear that John, by his 
strong censure of the marriage and the whole course of the tetrarch's life, might stir up the people into rebellion 
against him. Again, from the Gospels we naturally imagine the prison to be near Tiberias, where Herod Antipas 
ordinarily resided; but Josephus says that prison Was at Machajrus in Perea, a day's journey from Tiberias. 
Here, however, an examination of the Gospels shows, that the place where Antipas made his feast and gave his 
promise is not mentioned. It only appears that it was near the prison. Now, as Herod at this time was engaged 
in a war with Aretas, the Arabian prince, betwoen whose kingdom and his own lay the fortress of Machajrus, it is 
a probable solution of the difficulty that he was residing with his court at Maehserus at this period. (Strauss, j) 48, 
ad fin.) This supposition is confirmed by the fact that Josephus connects the imprisonment and death of the 
Baptist with the defeat of Herod in battle by his father-in-law, Aretas— this defeat being regarded by many of 
the Jews as a just punishment sent by God upon Herod for this act of injustice and cruelty. 

J Philip is said to have retained his tetrarchy till the twentieth year of Tiberius. (Ant. Jud., xviii, 5, I 6.) 
Herod Antipas lost his government in the first of Caligula. (Ibid., ch. 7.) 

g Josephus, Ant. Jud., xix, 8, § 2 : " Now after he had reigned three full years over the whole of Judea, he was 
at the city of Casarea, which was formerly called Strata's Tower. And there he held public shows in honor of 
Ciesar, having learned that a certain festival was celebrated at that time to make vows for his safety. Now, at 
that festival, there were assembled a multitude of those who were first in office and authority in the province. On 
the second day of the shows, putting on a robe made entirely of silver, the texture of which was truly wonderful 
he came into the theater early in the morning. When the first beams of the sun shone upon the silver, it glittered 
in a wonderful manner, flashing forth a brilliancy which amazed and awed those who gazed upon him. Whereupon 
his flatterers immediately cried out-though not for his good-one from one place, and one from another-address- 
mg him as a god-' Be propitious unto us;' and adding, 'Although we have heretofore feared thee as a man, yet 
henceforth we acknowledge thee to be of more than mortal nature.' The king did not rebuke them, nor reject their 
impious flattery. A little after, therefore, looking up, he saw an owl sitting on a certain rope over his head; and 
he immediately understood that it was a messenger of evil, as it had formerly been of good ; whereupon he was over- 



68 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



No where does profane history furnish a more striking testimony to the substantial truth 
of the sacred narrative, no where is the superior exactness of the latter over the former 
more conspicuous. 

On the death of Herod Agrippa, Judea — as Josephus informs us — became once more 
a Eoman province under procurators * but the small kingdom of Chalcis was, a few 
years later, conferred by Claudius on this Herod's son, Agrippa the Second, who, after- 
ward, received other territories.f This prince is evidently the " King Agrippa " before 
whom Paul pleaded his cause. (Acts xxv, 13, etc.) The Bernice, who is mentioned 
as accompanying him on his visit to Festus, was his sister, who lived with him, and 
commonly accompanied him upon his journeys.J Besides his separate sovereignty he 
had received from the emperor a species of ecclesiastical supremacy in Judea, where 
he had the superintendence of the Temple, the direction of the sacred treasury, and the 
right of nominating the high-priests.§ These circumstances account sufficiently for 
his visit to Judea, and explain the anxiety of Festus that he should hear Paul, and 
Paul's willingness to plead before him. 

The Eoman procurators, Pontius Pilate, Felix, and Festus, are prominent personages 
in the history of Josephus, where they occur in the proper chronological position, || and 
bear characters very agreeable to those which are assigned to them by the sacred 
writers. The vacillation of Pilate, his timidity, and, at the same time, his occasional 
violence,^]" the cruelty, injustice, and rapacity of Felix** and the comparatively-equitable 

come with a profound sadness. There was also a severe pain in his bowels, which began with a sudden violence. 
Turning, therefore, to his friends, he said : ' I, your god, am now commanded to end my life ; and fate immediately 
reproves the false shouts that were just now addressed to me; and so I, whom you call immortal, am now snatched 
away by death. But we must accept tho fate which God ordains ! And, indeed, we have not lived ill, but in the 
most brilliant good fortune.' When he had said this he was overcome by the intensity of the pain. He was, 
therefore, quickly carried to the palace, and the report went abroad to all that he must inevitably soon die. . . 
Being consumed thus, for five days in succession, with the pain in his belly, he departed this life." 

* Ant. Jud., xix, 9, § 2 : " [Claudius] therefore sent Cuspius Fadus as a procurator over Judea and all the 
kingdom." 

f Ant. Jud., xx, 5, g 2 ; vii, 1 ; and 8, j3 4. Agrippa II bore the title of king, (De Bell. Jud., ii, 12, $ 8.) 

J Ant. Jud., xix, 9, $ 1 ; xx, 7, £ 3. The evil reports which arose from this constant companionship are noticed 
by Josephus in the latter of these passages. They are glanced at in the well-known passage of Juvenal, (Sat. vi, 
155-169:) " That well-known diamond made even more precious by being worn on the finger of Bernice. This 
jewel the barbarian formerly gave to that unchaste woman, and Agrippa gave it to his sister, in that country where 
kings keep the Sabbath festival with naked feet, and an ancient indulgence allows the old men to eat pork." 
(Compare Tacit., Hist., ii, 2, 81.) 

j! Joseph., Ant. Jud., xx, 8, g 8 ; 9, § 7 : " The king had been intrusted by Claudius Cassar with the care of the 
Temple." In one passage, (Ant. Jud., xx, 1, \ 3,) Josephus says that these privileges continued to be exercised 
by the descendants of Herod, king of Chalcis, from his decease to the end of the war. But he here uses the term 
" descendants " very loosely, or he forgets that Agrippa II was the nephew, and not tho son of this monarch. (See 
the note of Lardner, Credibility, vol. i, p. 18, note g.) 

|| The procuratorship of Pilate lasted from the twelfth year of Tiberius — A. D. 26 — to the twenty-second — A. 
D. 36. (See Joseph., Ant. Jud., xviii, 3, § 2; 4, ji 2.) Felix entered upon his office as sole procurator in the twelfth 
year of Claudius — A. D. 53 — and was succeeded by Porcius Festus early in the reign of Nero, (Ant. Jud., xx, 7, 
§1; 8,? 9.) 

\ The vacillation and timidity of Pilate appear in his attempt to establish the images of Tiberius in Jerusalem, 
followed almost immediately by their withdrawal. (Ant. Jud., xviii, 3, § 1.) His violence is shown in his conduct 
toward the Jews who opposed his application of the Temple money to the construction of an aqueduct at Jerusa- 
lem, (Ibid., § 2,) as well as in his treatment of the Samaritans on the occasion which led to his removal. (Ibid., 
iv, \ 1.) Agrippa the elder speaks of the iniquity of his government in the strongest terms, (Ap. Philon., Leg. 
ad Caium, p. 1,034 : " He feared lest they should examine and expose the misdeeds of his former procuratorship, the 
taking of bribes, the acts of violence, the extortions, the tortures, the menaces, the repeated murders without any 
form of trial, the harsh and incessant cruelty.") 

** Tacitus says of Felix: " Antonius Felix exercised the royal authority in a manner agreeable to the baseness 
of his disposition, with all cruelty and wantonness." (Hist., v, 9.) And again: "But his father, whose surname 
was Felix, did not conduct himself with the same moderation. Having been a long time governor of Judea, he 
thought he could commit all crimes with impunity, relying on his great power." (Ann., xii, 54.) Josephus gives 
a similar account of his government. (Ant. Jud., xx, 8.) After he quitted office he was accused to the emperor, 
and only escaped a severe sentence by the influence which his brother Pallas possessed with Nero. 



THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL EECORDS. 69 

and mild character of Festus,* are apparent in the Jewish historian, and have some 
sanction from other writers. 

It only remains to notice an objection that has been made to the evidence presented 
in the many historical allusions of the Evangelists, and their verification by profane 
writers. It is said that there are remarkable facts in the Gospels, which we do not find 
alluded to by profane historians, though we might justly expect them to have attracted 
their attention. We shall speak of these in §. 23. 

Great stress is laid upon the difficulty with regard to the taxing of Cyrenius. The 
satisfactory solution, which has been made of this and a few other minor difficulties, the 
reader will find in the Commentary. Mr. Eawlinson closes his historical review with the 
following remarks : " "We have found that the historical books of the New Testament 
contain a vast body of incidental allusions to the civil history of the times, capable of 
being tested by comparison with the works of profane historians. We have submitted 
the greater part of these incidental allusions to the test of such comparison; and we 
have found, in all but some three or four doubtful cases, an entire and striking harmony. 
In no case have we met with clear and certain disagreement; in such cases we must take 
into consideration that profane writers are not infallible; Josephus, our chief profane 
authority for the time, has been shown, even in matters where he does not come into 
any collision with the Christian Scriptures, to teem with inaccuracies. If, therefore, in 
any case it should be thought that we must choose between Josephus and an Evangelist, 
sound criticism requires that we should prefer the latter to the former. Josephus is not 
entirely honest; he has his Roman masters to please, and he is prejudiced in favor of his 
own sect, the Pharisees. He has been convicted of error, which is not the case with any 
Evangelist. His authority, therefore, is, in the eyes of a historical critic, inferior to 
that of the Gospel writers, and in any instance of contradiction, it would be necessary to 
disregard it. In fact, however, we are not reduced to this necessity. The Jewish writer 
no where actually contradicts the Gospel records, and in hundreds of instances he con- 
firms them. It is evident that the entire historical frame-work, in which the Gosj)el 
picture is set, is real; that the facts of the civil history, small and great, are true, and 
the personages correctly depicted." We have only to add that such correctness could 
not have been attained, unless the Gospels were written by the men, to whom they are 
ascribed, who were living in the age in which the events described by them took place. 

§ 17. The Relation of the Four Gospels to each other and to the Acts op 

the Apostles. 

In the case of three out of the five historical books of the New Testament, there is 
an internal testimony to their composition by cotemporaries, which is of no small im- 
portance. "And he that saw it," says John, "bare record, and his record is true, and he 
knoweth that he says true, that ye may believe." (John xix, 35.) And again, still more 
explicitly, after speaking of himself, he says: " This is the disciple which testifieth of these 
things and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true." (John xxi, 24.) 
Either, therefore, John must be allowed to have been the writer of the fourth Gospel, or 
the writer must be deemed guilty of willful fraud. 

That the Acts of the Apostles and the third Gospel have "a testimony of a particular 
kind," which seems to give them a special claim to be accepted as the works of a cotem- 
porary, is admitted even by Strauss. The writer of the Acts, he allows, "by the use of 

*See Ant. Jud., xx, 8, §§ 10, 11; Bell. Jud., ii, 14, § 1. In the latter passage Josephus says: "Now Pestus 
having succeeded this man in the office of procurator, relieved the country of its greatest scourge. For he cap- 
tured a large number of the robbers, and destroyed not a few. But Albinus, who succeeded Festus, did not 
govern after tho same manner. For it is not possible to mention any form of evil-doing which he omitted to 
practice." 



70 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



the first person, identifies himself with the companion of Paul," and the prefaces of the 
two books make it plain that they " proceeded from the same author." Yet, while Strauss 
does not venture to deny that a companion of Paul may have written the two works he 
finds it "difficult" to believe that this was actually the case, and "suspects" that the 
passages of the Acts, where the first person is used, "belong to a distinct memorial by 
another hand, which the author of the Acts has incorporated into his history "(!) But 
still he allows the alternative — that "it is possible the companion of Paul may have 
composed the two woi-ks" — only it must have been "at a time when he was no longer 
protected by apostolic influence from the tide of tradition," (!) and so was induced to 
receive into his narrative, and join with what he had heard from the apostle, certain 
marvelous — and, therefore, incredible — stories which had no solid basis. A hypothesis 
like this is not worthy of a serious refutation. The Acts, as is clear from the fact of 
their terminating where they do, were composed at the close of Paul's first imprison- 
ment at Eome, A. D. 58 — or 63, according to some winters — and the Gospel, as being the 
"former treatise," must have been written earlier. 

We may, therefore, independently of the general voice of antiquity on the authen- 
ticity of the third Gospel, allow it to have been composed by one who lived in the 
apostolic age and companied with the apostles. And a new argument is presented to us 
for the early date of the first and second, based upon their accordance with the third, ' 
their resemblance to it in style and general character, and their diversity from the pro- 
ductions of any other period. The first three Gospels belong so entirely to the same 
school of thought, and the same type and stage of language, that, on critical grounds, 
they must be regarded as the works of cotemporaries ; while in their contents they are 
at once so closely accordant with one another, and so full of little differences, that we 
must assign to them an almost instantaneous origin. So peculiar is their relation to 
each other that the authenticity of one involves that of the others. If the evidence for 
either of the Gospels had been much weaker than that for the other three, its discrepan- 
cies from them, if there had been no other cause, would have decided its rejection. 
Moreover, if one of the Gospels had been published much in advance of the others, it is 
not probable that a second account of the ministry of Christ, confirmatory to any great 
extent of the preceding one, would have been written. A supplementary gospel, like 
that of John, might of course have been added in any case; but had the Gospel of Mat- 
thew, for instance, been composed, as some have supposed, before the separation of the 
apostles and the formation of distinct Christian communities, it would have been carried, 
together with Christianity, into all parts of the world; and it is very unlikely that, in 
that case, the Gospels of Mark and Luke, which cover chiefly the same ground, would 
have been written. The need of written gospels was not felt at first, while the apostles 
and companions of Christ were in full vigor, and were continually moving from place to 
place, relating with all the fullness and variety of oral discourse the miracles which they 
had seen wrought, and the gracious words which they had heard uttered by their Master. 
But, as they grew old, and as the sphere of their labors enlarged, and personal superin- 
tendence of the whole Church by the apostolic body became difficult, the desire to possess 
a written gospel arose, and simultaneously, in different parts of the Church, for different 
portions of the Christian body, the three Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were 
published. 

The peculiar relation of the synoptic Gospels to one another, and to the Gospel of 
John, and the points which modern criticism has made on this relation with reference to 
their inspiration, the reader will find fully discussed in Part IY. It is sufficient, here, to 
quote the following remarks of Dr. Lange on the bearing which the peculiar relation of 
the Gospels to each other have on their authenticity. He says: "The attempts that have 
been made, in modern times, to prove that the four Gospels weaken each other's authority 
have had the very opposite result. By their mutual relation to each other the Gospels 



THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 71 

gain the compactedness of a house hewn into a rock; for the relation of their differ- 
ences and points of agreement is so peculiar that sound criticism finds in them, after 
every new investigation, four independent witnesses for one and the same fact, and 
accordingly, also, for each other. If, for instance, a critic wishes to disprove the author- 
ity of the Gospel of John, he recognizes t^hat of three synoptic Gospels in order to gain a 
point of attack against the fourth Gospel. But the points of agreement between this 
and the three other Gospels prove so many and so strong, that, by recognizing the 
authority of the latter, the former is virtually, also, recognized. Or, the Gospel of John is 
taken for the authentic record of the Gospel history, and the differences between this and 
the three other Gospels are pointed out in order to shake thereby the authority of the lat- 
ter. But in this case, also, the force of the agreement between the two sets of documents 
proves stronger than that of the differences, so that, if the fourth Gospel is true, the sub- 
ject-matter of the three others must also be true. Again, Luke and Matthew are taken in 
hand to undermine the authority of Mark. But Mark has so much in common with the 
two others, that if he falls they must fall with him, while at the same time his peculiarities 
establish his independent authority. So, if the second Gospel is made the original Gospel 
at the expense of the first and third, Matthew and Luke have so much that is peculiar to 
them, that their own originality is placed beyond any and every reasonable doubt, while 
they have, at the same time, so much in common with Mark, that the recognition of the 
latter involves that of their own authority. In all these different directions the Gospels 
have been attacked by modern criticism, but all such attacks have proved futile. Their 
peculiar relation to one another is a fine net of truth, spread out to catch all impure criti- 
cism, and to entangle the critics in their own contradictions. Or we may compare the four 
Gospels to a wondrous grove, in which a magic influence makes the godless critics run 
to and fro in utter confusion, finding neither ingress nor egress. This magic influence 
proceeds from the circle of the four Gospels, because, from the fourfold refraction of the 
One Light of the world, there are issuing a thousand dazzling reflections for every oblique 
look, while the straightforward look sees in the fourfold refraction but the One Sun of 
the day. We may say that the relation of the four Gospels to each other, while it courts 
and challenges the spirit of criticism more than any single one for itself, becomes^in turn 
the withering critique of every false criticism. Whenever criticism undertakes to under- 
mine one Gospel through the other, it overlooks the mysterious links that bind them 
together, and thus digs its own grave. While the four Gospels testify to the Divine 
origin which they have in common, so completely and so mysteriously, that every impure 
critique is put to shame, they are in their outward form so purely human, that they 
thereby invite critical examination; and they rest on so firm a basis that every new 
examination can only bring them additional gain." 



§18. The Authenticity of the Gospels — a Postulate of Reason, as it alone Accounts 

for the Existence of the Christian Church, and for some of Paul's 

Epistles, whose Authenticity is Universally Admitted. 

The Christian Church is in the world, and has been in it a little more than eighteen 
centuries ; that it can be traced back to the historically-attested death of Christ is placed 
beyond the possibility of a doubt by heathen and Jewish as well as Christian writers. 
Josephus, born 37 A. D., says, in a passage, of which we will include in brackets what has 
been justly declared to have been interpolated : "About this time Jesus appears, a wise man, 
[if it is right to call him a man, for he was] performing surprising deeds, [a teacher of 
men, who willingly received the truth,] and many Jews as well as heathen became his 
followers; [being the Messiah] on the accusations of our chief men, Pilate condemned him 
to the cross; nevertheless, those who had loved him before did not give up their faith in 



72 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



him; [for he appeared to them alive on the third day, as the prophets had predicted of 
him, hesides many other marvelous things,] and the generation of Christians, that are 
named after him, is not extinct to this day." (Ant. Jud., XVIII, 3, § 3.) In another 
passage, which can not be justly suspected, Josephus, who grew up at Jerusalem till he 
was twenty-six years of age, and was thus a witness of the principal occurrences at 
Jerusalem, mentioned in the Acts, subsequently to the accession of Herod Agrippa, says: 
"Ananus .... called the council of judges, and bringing before them James, the 
brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, and certain others, he accused them of transgress- 
ing the laws, and delivered them up to be stoned." (Ant. Jud., XX, 9, § 1.) There 
existed, therefore, according to the testimony of Josephus, in the early part of the first 
century, a body of followers of Christ. Tacitus, the Eoman historian, who wrote in the 
second half of the first century, says, (Ann., XV, 44,) speaking of the fire which con- 
sumed Eome in Nero's time, and of the general belief that he had caused it: "In order, 
therefore, to put a stop to the report, he laid the guilt, and inflicted the severest punish- 
ments upon a set of people who were holden in abhorrence for their crimes, and called by 
the vulgar, Christians. The founder of that name was Christ, who suffered death in the reign 
of Tiberius, under his Procurator, Pontius Pilate. This pernicious superstition, thus checked 
for a while, broke out again, and spread not only over Judea, where the evil originated, but 
through Rome also, whither all things that are horrible and shameful find their way, and 
are practiced. Accordingly, the first who were apprehended confessed, and then on their 
information a vast multitude were convicted, not so much of the crime of setting Eome 
on fire, as of hatred to mankind." Suetonius says briefly in reference to the same occa- 
sion: "The Christians were punished, a set of men of a new and mischievous superstition." 
(Vita Ner., § 16.) The younger Pliny, while he was Governor of Bithynia, says, in an 
official report to Trajan: "They [that is, those Christians who recanted] declared that 
the whole of their guilt, or their error, was, that they were accustomed to meet on a 
stated day, before it was light, and to sing in concert a hymn of praise to Christ, as God, 
and to bind themselves by an oath, not for the perpetration of any wickedness, but that 
they would not commit any theft, robbery, or adultery, nor violate their word, nor refuse, 
when called upon, to restoi'e any thing committed to their trust. After this, they were 
accustomed to separate, and then to reassemble to eat in common a harmless meal. 
Even this, however, they ceased to do, after my edict, in which, agreeably to your com- 
mands, I forbade the meeting of secret assemblies. After hearing this, I thought it the 
more necessary to endeavor to find out the truth by putting to the torture two female 
slaves, who were called 'deaconesses.' But I could discover nothing but a perverse and 
extravagant superstition; and therefore I deferred all further proceedings till I should 
consult with you. For the matter appears to me worthy of such consultation, especially 
on account of the number of those who are involved in peril. For many of every age, of every 
rank, and of either sex are exposed, and will be exposed to danger. Nor has the conta- 
gion of this superstition been confined to the cities only, but it has extended to the villages, 
and even to the country. Nevertheless, it still seems possible to arrest the evil, and to 
apply a remedy. At least, it is very evident that the temples, which had already been 
almost deserted, begin to be frequented, and the sacred solemnities, so long interrupted, 
are again revived; and the victims, which heretofore could hardly find a purchaser, are 
now every-where in demand. From this it is easy to imagine what a multitude of men 
might be reclaimed, if pardon should be offered to those who repent." (Pliny, Ep. X, 
97.) It is not necessary to quote any more testimonies concerning the existence of a 
great body of Christians before the close of the first century. 

Now to some of these Christians at various places the apostles addressed their Epis- 
tles, and there are no valid reasons for entertaining any doubt concerning their author- 
ship, except, perhaps, in the case of that to the Hebrews, and of the two shorter Epistles 
which are assigned to John. All these Epistles are not only consistent with, but imper- 



THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 73 

atively demand, our belief in the authenticity of such historical documents as our four 
Gospels are. It is indisputable that the writers, and those to whom they wrote, believed 
in the recent occurrence of a set of facts similar to, or identical with, those recorded in 
the Gospels and the Acts, especially those fundamental facts upon which the Christian 
faith rests. "Great is the mystery of godliness," says Paul. "God was manifest in the 
flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the 
world, received up into glory." (1 Tim. iii, 16.) "Christ," says Peter, "suffered once 
for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the 
flesh, but quickened in the Spirit." (1 Peter iii, 18.) "He received from God the Father 
honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory: This is 
my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; and this voice which came from heaven we 
heard, .when we were with him in the holy mount." (2 Peter i, 17, 18.) "God raised up 
Christ from the dead, and gave him glory." (1 Peter i, 21.) "He is gone into heaven, 
and is on the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers being made subject 
to him." (1 Peter iii, 22.) "Eemember," says Paul, "that Jesus Christ of the seed of 
David was raised from the dead." (2 Tim. ii, 2, 8.) "If Christ be not risen, then is our 
preaching vain, and your faith also is vain." (1 Cor. xv, 14.) "I delivered unto you 
first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the 
Scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to 
the Scriptures ; and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve, after that he was 
seen of James, then of all the apostles." (1 Cor. xv, 3-7.) These are only half a dozen 
texts out of hundreds which might be adduced to show that Paul represented the 
death of Christ on the cross, as necessary to procure the pardon of our sins, or to make 
that pardon consistent with God's justice and truth ; he does not mention the charge on 
which he was condemned to this ignominious death, but that was necessarily implied. 
It was a Eoman punishment, and Pilate could not condemn a public teacher, whose 
morals were spotless, on any other charge than that which the Evangelists state at large, 
and which no enemy of Christ gainsayed, to which He himself pleaded guilty in reply to 
the adjuration of Caiaphas; namely, "that he said, he was the Christ, the Son of God" — 
a declaration by which the Eoman governor, interpreting it according to the well-known 
Jewish notions of the Messiah, understood Jesus to have proclaimed himself "the king 
of the Jews;" on which account he wrote that charge on the tablet over the cross. Paul 
tells us, (Gal. i, 12,) that he had received his Gospel by the revelation of Jesus Christ, 
and he proves it by preaching the same Christ, whom the four Evangelists delineate. 
Matthew records the last commission of Jesus, commanding his disciples to baptize all 
nations "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." God is 
here called Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and the same divinity is claimed for the Son 
and Holy Ghost as for the Father. John calls Jesus in his antemundane state "the 
Word, that was with God from the beginning, and that was God," and says: "the "Word 
became flesh." Paul teaches Christ's divinity proper, and his incarnation not less dis- 
tinctly and emphatically than John or Matthew. "To us there is but one God, the 
Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom 
are all things, and we by him." (1 Cor. viii, 6.) "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his 
poverty might be rich." (2 Cor. viii, 9.) "Let this mind be in you, which was also in 
Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with 
God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and 
was made in the likeness of men." (Phil, ii, 6, 7.) "God sent his own Son in the like- 
ness of sinful flesh." (Eom. viii, 3, 32.) These are only a few texts out of a hundred, 
which might be adduced to show that the writers of the Epistles entirely agree with the 
Evangelists, as to the facts on which Christianity is based, and as strongly assert their 
reality. If we find in Paul's Epistles some doctrines that are not in the Gospels, and if 



74 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



others are set forth more fully and distinctly, it is exactly what we have to expect 
according to John xvi, 12-14. 

But we will go a step further and make the argument more direct and more pointed 
in giving it a strictly historical character. "Christianity or revealed religion is," as 
Eawlinson remarks in the opening of his Lectures on the "Historical Evidences," "in 
nothing more distinguished from the other religions of the world, than in its objective or 
historical character. The religions of Greece and Eome, of Egypt, India, Persia, and 
the East generally, were speculative systems, which did not even seriously postulate a 
historical basis. But it is otherwise with the religion of the Bible. There, whether we 
look to the Old or the New Testament, to the Jewish dispensation, or to the Christian, 
we find a scheme of doctrine which is bound up with facts; which depends absolutely 
upon them, and which is null and void without them." The truth of this remark we 
will illustrate and confirm by a consideration of the incontestable facts implied in Paul's 
Epistle to the Romans, the Corinthians, and the Galatians — Epistles which, even by those 
critics who have assailed the authenticity of every other portion of the New Testament 
canon, are admitted to be authentic, that is, to have been composed by the man whose name 
they bear, at the time and for the class of readers that are claimed for them. 

There was in the churches in Galatia and at Corinth a party which denied the apos- 
tolical authority of Paul, which saw in him, at best, an apostle's disciple. Paul, in vin- 
dicating his apostolical authority, appeals to his call by the risen Savior, and to his 
possessing the power to work miracles. He commences the Epistle to the Galatians with 
these words: "Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Chiist and 
God the Father, who raised him from the dead." The mention of the resurrection of 
Christ, in this connection, is evidently made to remind the Galatians that he had seen 
the risen Savior as well as the other apostles. It appears from verses 13-17, that they 
were well acquainted with his former enmity against Christ and his disciples, and with 
the miraculous event which resulted in his conversion. In 1 Cor. xv, 8, the apostle tells 
the Corinthians that the risen Savior was seen (uxpO-q) by him, as he had been seen by 
others, and, 1 Cor. ix, 1, he bases his apostleship upon his personal knowledge of Christ, 
obtained by actual sight (iwpaxa.) From this sight, which took place with the natural 
eye, in a state of perfect self-consciousness, Paul distinguishes a vision, of which he him- 
self does not know whether he had it in or out of the body. (2 Cor. xii, 1, 2.) Yet the 
personal manifestation of the risen Savior, narrated Acts ix, although it was the most 
important in point of its effects and differed also in its nature from subsequent manifest- 
ations of the Lord, was not an isolated fact in the life of the apostle, but only the grand 
opening act of his personal communion with the Lord. He appeals in different places 
to especial revelations of Christ on doctrinal points, in full accordance with what the 
Lord had told him at his conversion: "I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to 
make thee a minister both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in 
the which I will appear unto thee." 

Now, what deductions are we compelled to draw from what Paul writes to the Gala- 
tians and Corinthians respecting his having seen the risen Savior? If he has told the 
truth, if Christ appeared to him, then the truth of what the Evangelists have reported 
of the resurrection of Christ receives an incontestable confirmation, and the verity of that 
fact involves the authenticity of the Gospels. The latter has never been called in ques- 
tion by any who admit the resurrection of Jesus. It is attacked simply, as we shall 
show in the next Part, on the ground of the miraculous elements of the Gospel nar- 
ratives. Whoever admits the miracle of Christ's resurrection can not object to the other 
miracles recorded in the Gospels. 

But is Paul's testimony of having seen the risen Savior trustworthy? Was he a man 
of veracity, and of a sound mind? Has he told the truth? We answer: 1. If Christ did 
not appear to Paul, neither did he receive those miraculous powers to which he appealed 






THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 75 

in vindication of his apostolical authority, in letters whose authenticity, even those who 
assail every other portion of the New Testament Canon have felt themselves compelled to 
acknowledge. And how were, then, the Galatians and Corinthians brought to believe his 
Gospel of a risen Savior? 2. If Paul has not told the truth, we^iust set him down either 
as one of the most stupid victims of a disordered imagination, or as a willful impostor. 
For we must bear in mind that he did not become an apostle for the promulgation of mere 
theories or speculations, such as would admit of both intellect and candor. All he 
preached was based upon his testimony of the fact of the resurrection of the crucified 
Bedeemer. 

Can we conceive the author of such a composition as the Epistle to the Eomans to 
have been the wretched dupe of an entirely unaccountable self-deception? That he was — 
far from being a weak-minded enthusiast or fanatic — a man of gigantic intellect, high 
culture, dialectic skill, inflexible purpose, and indomitable courage, the destructive criti- 
cism of modern infidelity must unwillingly admit, inasmuch as, in order to put the per- 
son of Christ out of the way, Paul is made the self-constituted founder of the Christian 
Church, and, consequently, the author of the whole modern civilization and culture. 

Or was Paul a willful impostor? Is it conceivable that he should have blasted all his 
earthly prospects, and subjected himself to unceasing privations and sufferings, (2 Cor. 
xi, 23-27,) in order to make Jews and Gentiles believe what, in the case supposed, he 
must have known to be a lie? The thought is as great an outrage upon common-sense, 
and as black a libel upon humanity as it is a daring blasphemy against God. Hear how 
the apostle himself affirms his candor and soberness: "Yourselves, brethren, know our 

entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain For our exhortation was not 

of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile. But as we were allowed of God to be put in 
trust with the Gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our 
hearts." (1 Thess. ii, 1, 3, 4.) "Therefore, seeing we have this ministry, as we have 
received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not 
walking in craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation 
of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." (2 
Cor. iv, 1, 2.) "If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also 
vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God 

that he raised up Christ If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are 

of all men most miserable." (1 Cor. xv,- 14, 15, 19.) 

So much with regard to Paul's testimony of having seen the risen Savior. Let us 
also consider what he says concerning the existence of miraculous powers in the primitive 
Churches. In the Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Cor. xii-xiv) the apostle speaks of certain 
extraordinary gifts, (charismata,) not for the purpose of proving their reality, or instruct- 
ing his readers about their origin, but taking their existence for granted, he merely gives 
direction about their proper use. He mentions the gift of healing, prophecy, the dis- 
cerning of spirits, and working of miracles. If the existence of these gifts had not been 
an incontestable fact, the apostle could not have written thus to a society of Christians, a 
part of whom did not recognize his apostolical authority, for it would have given his 
opponents the best means to destroy all confidence in him even as a man of veracity. In 
the Epistle to the Eomans, (c. xii, 6,) these gifts are likewise referred to. In Galatians 
iii, 5, we meet again the working of miracles. Thus these charismata appear in all the 
Churches, however remote from each other they are. In the Epistle to the Galatians the 
apostle has a special object in appealing to them. The Galatians had been shaken in 
their Christian faith, and were in danger of apostatizing from the Gospel which Paul 
had preached to them. He reminds them that they had received, through his preaching 
of the Gospel, the Holy Spirit and the power to work miracles. JSTow, if they had not 
received these powers, how could the apostle have dared to argue thus? In vindicating 
his apostleship against his detractors at Corinth, he appeals to the miracles performed by 



76 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



himself before their eyes: "The signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all 
patience, in signs, wonders, and mighty deeds." According to Acts xviii, 11, 18, the 
apostle was at Corinth some eighteen months. From his miracles not being mentioned 
there, we see that the writers of the New Testament did not eagerly mention every mir- 
acle of which they had knowledge, bnt passed by many in silence for the reason given 
by John in his Gospel, (c. xx, 30; xxi, 25.) 

Other epistles of Paul show a decline of these charismata in the Churches; in his pas- 
toral letters the apostle finds it necessary to point out the proper qualifications of a min- 
ister of the Gospel, undoubtedly because the rich stream of miraculous gifts had compar- 
atively ceased to flow, and they no longer pointed out to the Churches the proper persons 
for the various offices. The Epistle to the Hebrews, no matter by whom it was written, 
was certainly written before the close of the first century ; Clement of Rome quotes from 
it largely, and internal evidences demonstrate that it was composed while the Temple 
worship was still in its full glory. The believing Jews, like the Galatians, came in dan- 
ger of apostatizing from the faith; for this reason they are reminded, (Heb. ii, 4,) of the 
miracles performed among them and accompanying the preaching of the Gospel by those 
who had heard the Lord. These miraculous powers appear here in nearly the same 
order in which they stand, 2 Cor. xii, 12. We have thus the strongest evidence that 
there was no difference in this respect between the Jewish and heathen converts, that the 
one enjoyed these gifts as well as the other. From this fact we have to infer that the 
Lord himself wrought such miracles as are recorded in the Gospels, for the Master was 
certainly not inferior to his disciples, and it is expressly so stated, Heb. ii, 4. 

The Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of Paul sustain the nearest relation to each 
other, and are wonderfully confirmed one hy the other. The incidental allusions in the 
Epistles to facts related at length in the Acts, and vice versa, as well as the mention of 
facts in the one that are omitted in the other, complete each other. No less striking is 
the agreement between the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospels. 

§ 19. The Absurdity of the Mythical Theory. 

Unless all the arguments by which we have established the authenticity of the Gospel 
records are of no account, the mythical theory, laid down by Strauss in his "Life of 
Jesus," has no ground on which it can stand, and deserves no formal refutation. To 
state it is to refute it; and inasmuch as no English or German writer has stated this 
theory so clearly and fairly as Mr. Norton, we will give his statement, showing thereby 
how utterly futile this last effort of infidelity is to explain the origin of Christianity or 
any one essential fact connected with its origin. 

The external testimonies for the authenticity Strauss sets aside by simply making the 
following assertions: "This most ancient testimonies tell us, firstly, that an apostle, or 
some other person who had been acquainted with an apostle, wrote a Gospel history; but 
not whether it was identical with that which afterward came to be circulated in the 
Church under his name; secondly, that writings similar to our Gospels were in existence, 
but not that they were ascribed with certainty to any one apostle or companion of an 
apostle. Such is the uncertainty of these accounts, which, after all, do not reach further 
back than the third or fourth decade of the second century. According to all the rules 
of probability the apostles were all dead before the close of the .first century, not except- 
ing John, who is said to have lived till A. D. 100; concerning whose age and death, 
however, many fables were early invented. What an ample scope for attributing to the 
apostles manuscripts they never wrote!" (Strauss, Life of Jesus, i, 62.) In the follow- 
ing passage he asserts still more emphatically, that the apostles and their associates are 
not to be held responsible for the fables contained in the Gospels : " The fact that many 
such compilations — as the Gospels — of narratives concerning the life of Jesus were 



THE AUTHENTICITY OP THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 77 



already in general circulation during the lifetime of the apostles, and more especially 
that any one of our Gospels was known to an apostle and acknowledged by him, can 
never be proved. With respect to isolated anecdotes, it is only necessary to form an 
accurate conception of Palestine and of the real position of the eye-witnesses referred to, 
in order to understand that the origination of legends, even at so early a period, is by no 
means incomprehensible. Who informs us that they must necessarily ^ave taken root in 
that particular district of Palestine where Jesus tarried longest, and where his actual 
history was well known? And with respect to eye-witnesses, if by these we are to 
understand the apostles, it is to ascribe to them absolute ubiquity to represent them as 
present here and there weeding out all the unhistorical legends concerning Jesus, in 
whatever places they had chanced to spring up and nourish." (Ibid., i, 63, 64.) 

The internal evidences for the authenticity of the Gospels are entirely ignored by Strauss 
on account of the internal evidences which he sets up in opposition to them; namely, 
the contradictory statements which he charges upon the Evangelists, and the impos- 
sibility of miracles. As these two objections are directed against the historic verity or 
credibility of the Gospel records, we shall consider them in the next Part, and proceed 
now to the statement of the mythical theory itself in the words of Norton. 

As there was among the Jews an eager expectation of their Messiah, Jesus, at least 
during a part of his ministry, regarded himself as the Messiah, as "the greatest and last 
of the prophetic race." He was, consequently, so regarded by his followers. The expect- 
ation, which the Jews entei'tained of their Messiah, was definite and "characterized by 
many important particulars." They had formed many imaginations concerning him 
connected with allegorical and typical misinterpretations of the Old Testament; and, 
after the appearance of Jesus, there were some among the Jews who converted their 
imaginations of what the Messiah was to be into fictions of what Jesus had been, and 
embodied those fictions in a history of his ministry. The Jewish people generally 
rejected him, as not their Messiah, and their leaders persecuted and crucified him as a 
religious impostor and blasphemer. Nor, according to Strauss, were the supposed 
fictions concerning him propagated by his immediate disciples, who had witnessed his 
deeds and listened to his words, his apostles, and their associates; nor, consequently, by 
those who knew and held the truth concerning him, as taught by them. To affirm that 
they were propagated by the apostles and their associates would be to maintain what the 
most reckless infidelity has shrunk from directly asserting; namely, that the received 
history of Jesus is a collection of enormous falsehoods, fabricated by his immediate dis- 
ciples, and preached by them with ineffable effrontery in the very face of those who 
knew them to be false. From this simple solution of the origin of our religion, the 
"mythical" theory of Strauss essentially differs; for though he does not define the sense 
in which he uses the term "mythus" it is fundamental in his theory that mythi, and par- 
ticularly the mythi or fables concerning Jesus, are not generally intentional falsehoods. 
It is this characteristic alone which distinguishes it from the more obvious and base 
solution of the origin of Christianity which has baen adverted to. According to Strauss, 
the greater part of those fictions concerning Jesus, which are embodied in the Gospels, 
became connected with his history during the period of about thirty years which inter- 
vened between his death and the destruction of Jerusalem, (Strauss, i, 84,) that is, during 
the period throughout which many of his apostles and their associates — the first preach- 
ers of our religion — and the great body of those instructed by them were living. These 
fictions did not proceed from, nor were they countenanced by, them, nor were they 
received as true by those who relied on their authority. How, notwithstanding, they 
obtained such currency as almost immediately to obscure and obliterate his true history, 
is to be thus explained: 

The age, it is true, was "a historical age" — by which term Strauss, I suppose, must 
be understood as meaning an age in which facts would be recorded, and mythological 



78 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



fables would not find ready currency — but "the pure historic idea was never developed 
among the Hebrews." "Indeed, no just notion of the true nature of history is possible, 
without a perception of the inviolability of the chain of finite causes and of the impos- 
sibility of miracles. This perception, which is wanting to so many minds of our own 
day, was still more deficient in Palestine, and, indeed, throughout the Eoman Empire. 
And to a mind still open to the reception of the marvelous, if it be once carried away by 
the tide of religious enthusiasm, all things will appear credible ; and should this enthusi- 
asm lay hold of a yet wider circle, it will awaken a new creative vigor even in a decayed 
people. To account for such an enthusiasm it is by no means necessary to presuppose 
the Gospel miracle as the existing cause. This may be found in the known religious 
dearth of that period, a dearth so great that the cravings of the mind after some religious 
belief excited a relish for the most extravagant forms of worship; secondly, in the deep 
religious satisfaction which was afforded by the belief in the resurrection of the deceased 
Messiah, and by the essential principles of the doctrine of Jesus." (Strauss, i, 64, 65.) 

The theory of Strauss necessarily supposes that Jesus was a conspicuous individual 
who acted strongly on the minds of men. Before this theory can be received, it becomes 
requisite to explain the very rapid growth of those most extraordinary fictions concern- 
ing him, which sprung up and flourished while very many of his cotemporaries were 
still living; especially as by a great majority of those cotemporaries, his enemies, they 
would be at once indignantly spurned and trampled under foot, as being, what they 
were, monstrous falsehoods; while by another portion, the first adherents of Jesus, and 
the original witnesses of his ministry, their growth, to say the least, was not fostered — • 
they did not rest on their testimony. Strauss has shown himself sensible that an expla- 
nation of this phenomenon is requisite; and the solution which he gives of the sudden 
development of such an array of fables concerning Jesus may be found in the following 
passage. It may be readily understood, if we bear in mind what has been before stated, 
that, according to his theory, the Jews had entertained many imaginations concerning 
their expected Messiah; and that the process in forming the history of Jesus which has 
come down to us, consisted in converting these imaginations of what was to be into 
fables concerning Jesus. 

He saj^s: "A frequently -raised objection still remains, . . . the objection, namely, 
that the space of about thirty years from the death of Jesus to the destruction of Jeru- 
salem, during which the greater part of the narratives must have been formed — or even 
the interval extending to the beginning of the second century, the most distant period 
which can be allowed for the origin of even the latest of these Gospel narratives — is 
much too short to admit of the use of so rich a collection of mytlii. But as we have 
shown, the greater part of these mythi did not arise during that period, for their first 
foundation was laid in the legends of the Old Testament before and after the Babylonish 
exile; and the transferrence of these legends, with suitable modifications, to the expected 
Messiah was made in the course of the centuries which elapsed between that exile and 
the time of Jesus. So that, for the period between the foundation of the first Christian 
community and the writing of the Gospels, there remains to be effected only the trans- 
ferrence of Messianic legends, almost all ready formed, to Jesus, with some alterations to 
adapt them to Christian opinions and to the individual character and circumstances of 
Jesus; only a very small proportion of mythi having to be formed entirely new." 
(Strauss, i, 84, 85.) This is the only explanation he affords. 

It appears, then, according to Strauss, that some time during the thirty or forty years 
after the death of our Lord, the small body of his followers among the Jews was divided 
into two parties of very different characters. One was composed of his personal friends 
and followers, the apostles and their associates, who knew his true history and doctrines, 
and who did not propagate those falsehoods concerning him on which the religion of 
Christians is founded. The other was composed of persons who did propagate those 



THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 79 

falsehoods. These had their origin, as Strauss suggests, in districts of Palestine where 
Jesus did not tarry long, and where his actual history was not well known, and it would, 
he says, be ascribing absolute ubiquity to the apostles to suppose them to have been 
capable of being present here and there to weed out all the unhistorical legends concern- 
ing him in whatever places they had chanced to spring up and nourish. (Strauss, i, 63, 
64.) Those who propagated these fictions concerning him had no intention of deceiving. 
They were unconscious of falsehood; they believed that what they related had actually 
taken place. They had so little acquaintance with Jesus or with the eye-witnesses of his 
ministry, that they did not know that all which they affirmed concerning him was 
untrue. On the contrary, they were persuaded that it was true. But though, as Strauss 
suggests, their fictions may not originally "have taken root in that particular district of 
Palestine where Jesus tarried longest," (Strauss, i, 84,) yet, in order to make converts to 
the belief of them, it was necessary that they should be preached in parts of Palestine 
where our Lord had been well known, and where there could be no ignorance respecting 
the essential facts in his ministry. Here, on the one hand, they would be indignantly 
and vehemently contradicted by the great body of the unbelieving Jews, and on the 
other, they would be denied and discountenanced by the true followers of Christ. The 
innocent impostors, who, in their ignorance, propagated unconsciously such enormous 
falsehoods concerning him, must have been surprised to find all those acquainted with 
the facts in his history, whether friends or enemies, utterly confounded, to say the least, 
by their marvelous stories. One might think that their own confidence would have been 
shaken by the direct and authoritative evidence, which they must have encountered on 
every side, of the falsehood of their narrations. It might seem, moreover, that it would 
be impossible under such circumstances to procure converts to the belief of them. But 
such was not the case. Their own confidence was not shaken; they persisted in pro- 
mulgating their stories, and they triumphed signally. They are the true authors of 
Christianity. It is to them that we are indebted for the Gospels. Their fictions have 
supplanted the real history of Christ, the original testimony of eye-witnesses, and have 
become the foundation of Christian faith ! Nor is this all. Keeping themselves out of 
view, they have had complete success in putting their stories before the world as resting 
on the authority of the apostles and their associates, in making them responsible for 
their marvelous tales. The whole Christian world has believed that these stories pro- 
ceeded from apostles and their associates. But it was not so. They proceeded from 
another party among the followers of Jesus Christ, a party that does not appear in his- 
tory, the existence of which is irreconcilable with all remaining records and memorials 
of the times when it is supposed to have flourished, utterly irreconcilable with all proba- 
bility, and which, therefore, was unknown to the world before its discovery by Strauss. 

It is to be borne in mind that the distinguishing characteristic of the theory of 
Strauss, the "mythical" theory of the origin of Christianity, consists in the supposition 
that the mythi or fictions in the history of Jesus were not intentional fabrications for the 
purpose of deception, but that they sprang up, as it were, spontaneously; those among 
whom they originated, and by whom they were propagated, being unconscious of false- 
hood. This fact is fully recognized by Strauss, though not clearly apprehended by him 
in its necessary relations. His reader should keep it in mind. We must not suffer 
ourselves to vacillate between two theories wholly inconsistent with each other. 
The apostles and their associates were, or were not, the most shameless of impostors. 
According to Strauss they were not impostors. It follows that the history of our Lord, 
which the Christian world has received, was not derived from them, though it grew to 
its present form principally while the most, or many, of them were living. It proceeded, 
therefore, from other individuals, of whom history has preserved no record, and who 
must have taught under the circumstances which have been described. 

We may next observe, that, however difficult was the task of these teachers of our 



80 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 

present religion in persuading the cotemporaries and countrymen of an individual as 
conspicuous as our Lord must have been, to give credit to a history of him full of mar- 
vels that were utterly devoid of truth, yet this was not the sole, nor the greatest, diffi- 
culty which they are supposed to have overcome. This teaching consisted, as we are 
informed by Strauss, in identifying the history of Jesus with the anticipations of the 
Jews concerning their expected Messiah. The mythi respecting this imaginary person- 
age were ready made for their use, and they had only to turn them into historical 
fictions, and accommodate them to Jesus. 

But every one knows what were the popular expectations of the Jews respecting 
their coming Messiah. Of him, David, the greatest of their kings, the founder of their 
monarchy, was, in their view, the especial type; though in all by which the favor of God 
had distinguished David, the Messiah was to be far more distinguished. He, too, was to 
be a monarch, the restorer of the kingdom of Israel, a warrior, a conqueror, the deliverer 
and exalter of his people. Establishing the seat of his empire at Jerusalem, he was to 
found a kingdom extending over the world, and enduring to the consummation of all 
things, over which he was to rule without a successor. This was the outline of their 
expectations, which, doubtless, before the coming of our Lord, was filled up, as it has 
been since, with many particular imaginations corresponding to its general character. 

But according to Strauss, it was the purpose of those who propagated the fabulous 
history of Jesus, to evince that he was the Messiah through the correspondence of its 
fictions with the previous expectations of the Jews concerning the Messiah. This his- 
tory actually shows one striking point of resemblance in representing Jesus as the last 
great messenger of God to the Jewish nation endowed with miraculous powers. But the 
whole representation of the purpose and effects of his mission, of his personal character, 
of his humble condition in this world, of his determined repression of all hope of 
worldly aggrandizement for himself, his followers, or his countrymen, of his annunci- 
ation to his immediate disciples that they must submit to poverty and suffering, and 
prepare themselves for the last outrage of persecution, together with the account of the 
apparent triumph of his enemies, and of his cruel death — this representation, if it were 
a fiction, might seem to have been devised in direct opposition to the expectations of the 
Jews respecting their Messiah. 

But it may be said that the facts to which I have referred were so notorious that no 
other account could be given by the honest impostors, who, unconscious of falsehood, 
propagated the stories of his miracles. Certainly these facts were so notorious that no 
other account could be given but that which we have received. But such being the case, 
it follows that no attempt could be more hopeless or more foolish, than an attempt to 
persuade the Jews that the life and death, the character, acts, and teachings of Jesus 
corresponded to 'their previous expectations of the Messiah. So far, indeed, from their 
finding any such correspondence, we know that, during his ministry, and after his death, 
he was rejected by a very great majority of the nation, as disappointing all their hopes 
from a Messiah, and exasperating their strongest prejudices. 

This theory of Strauss is, indeed, an outrage upon common-sense, if the preceding 
account of it be correct, and no one will pretend that it is not. But we have as yet 
viewed this theory only under one aspect; namely, in its relation to the Jewish nation. 
We will consider it in some other very important relations in which its author has not 
presented it, and in regard to which he has, of course, given no explanation. 

The heathens believed the Gospel, and of the strength of their belief they gave sure 
proof by the marvelous change which it wrought in their hearts and lives, by the wide 
separation which it produced between them and the heathen world, by their readiness to 
submit to all the deprivations and evils which it brought upon them. Now, from whom 
did the heathens receive their knowledge of Christianity and of the Gospels? The 
theory of Strauss admits of but one answer. According to this theory, they must have 






THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 81 

received it not from the main body of the Jewish Christians, but from those few mis- 
taken men among them who, having little or no acquaintance with Jesus, propagated, 
unconscious of falsehood, those mythi concerning him with which the Gospels are filled, 
and who thus established in the world not merely a fabulous history of him, the pro- 
fessed Messiah of whom they knew nothing correctly, but likewise a new religion, 
embracing the noblest principles of action, founded upon faith in one whose real history 
they had obliterated or rendered doubtful, and whose character they had essentially mis- 
represented. This is the only answer which the theory of Strauss admits. But the only 
answer admitted by authentic history and indisputable fact is that the heathens were 
instructed in Christianity by the immediate followers and companions of our Lord, and 
by their associates — -by those who were perfectly aware whether their teaching was or 
was not true; that they received our religion from Barnabas, and Paul, and Luke, from 
Peter and Mark, from the apostle John, who resided so long among them, and from 
others associated with these early teachers. Above all, no degree of folly, certainly 
none to which a rational person can be required to give heed, will lead any one to pre- 
tend expressly that there is any evidence or any ground whatever for imagining that 
the Gospel was preached to the heathen world in two different forms; in one form 
by half-crazy fanatics, who filled the history of our Lord with stories of fictitious 
miracles, and in another, by his immediate followers and friends, who told the truth 
concerning him, whatsoever that was. But turning from unquestionable truths, we will 
enter the regions of mere hypothesis. We will clear the ground, as far as possible, of 
those facts that stand in our way. The Epistles of Paul we will regard as forgeries, and 
the whole history of the propagation of Christianity, which may be gathered from the 
New Testament, as a fabrication. We will suppose that these Christians received their 
instruction in Christianity from the fanatical and ignorant portion of Christ's disciples. 
Every one knows what these teachers effected. Let us consider their means and the 
obstacles which they had to encounter. 

They were men very deficient in good sense. They had taken no pains to inform 
themselves correctly concerning the character, acts, and teaching of him whose disciples 
they professed to be, and whom they were so zealous in exhorting others to obey. They 
had, on the contrary, fallen into the grossest mistakes concerning them. God did not 
"bear them witness with signs, and wonders, and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy 
Ghost." The pretense that he did so is merely one of those fables which are j>ut forward 
throughout the New Testament. It was not only morally, but physically, impossible 
that they should produce any miraculous evidence of the truth of their fictions. Nor 
were they distinguished for eloquence or ability of any sort, since, though they effected 
such an astonishing work, history has not even preserved their names, but has falsely 
substituted for them those of other individuals — apostles of Christ and the associates of 
apostles. Such were the character and the facilities for accomplishing their purpose, 
possessed by these zealous missionaries of falsehood. What obstacles, then, had they to 
encounter? 

According to Strauss their main purpose in their mythical history of Christ, which 
we now find in the Gospels, was to evince that a Messiah — named Jesus — had appeared 
among the Jews. This was the story which they propagated in the heathen world. 
But the heathen world would have regarded only with indifference or ridicule such a 
story from such preachers — a story that a Messiah had appeared among the Jews, a 
people toward whom the prevalent feelings of the heathens had been those of dislike and 
contempt; and in whose supposed good or ill fortune in the advent of their Messiah it 
must have been very hard to persuade them that they had any concern. Admitting, 
however, that it were possible to excite their attention to the subject, with what ineffable 
scorn must they have regarded the sort of evidence laid before them ! How would they 
have listened to proofs founded on a pretended correspondence between a body of 



82 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



incredible fictions and certain passages of a book called the Old Testament — a book 
for which they had no respect, which even many of them had never heard of, and which 
it may be safely presumed, no one of them had read — which passages were represented 
to them as expressing typically or mystically what the Jews had expected concerning 
the Messiah? With how much patience would they have listened to these Jewish j)rose- 
lyting missionaries who had come among them, when these missionaries themselves told 
them that the person, whom they called on them to receive as the Jewish Messiah, had 
been rejected by his own nation as an impostor and blasphemer, and had, in consequence 
of his pretensions, suffered a public execution, as ignominious as it was cruel? What 
must they have thought of this Jewish Messiah, the deliverer of his people, when he was 
preached to them after the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jewish 
nation? Is it possible, an intelligent reader may ask, that any one can have been so 
bewildered and confounded by irreligion and mysticism, as to imagine that the most 
astonishing moral revolution in the history of mankind, the establishment of Christian- 
ity in the heathen world, was effected by such agents, under such circumstances? 
We add to Mr. Norton's critique of Strauss a few remarks : 

1. The mythical theory is a tissue of self-contradictory statements. One Gospel is 
rejected as spurious, and then, again, treated as authentic, in order to prove from it 
the spuriousness of another. In one place we are told that the people, among whom 
these myths originated, were in a state of childish ignorance and credulity, under the 
influence of an untutored, extravagant imagination; in another place we are called 
upon to admire the deep philosophy, lying at the bottom of these evangelical myths, 
the expansive views, thorough analysis, and far-seeing sagacity of those ignorant and 
superstitious persons who propagated them ! 

2. What we are called upon to believe by the mythical theory, is, in short, that 
Jesus — if he wrought no miracles, and was the subject of no miracles — contradicted, 
in every circumstance of his birth, and education, and teaching, and life, and death, 
the best established and most cherished notions of all around him, concerning the 
promised Messiah, and was, nevertheless, believed to be that Messiah. We are called 
upon to believe that miracles were ascribed to him, because the Messiah ought to have 
wrought miracles; that he was believed to have risen again, because it suddenly 
occurred to somebody that he ought to have risen again ; and that, by such a process 
as this, a creed of fables was transmuted into a creed of facts, and, toward the close 
of the second century, stamped indelibly, and with one impression, upon the faith and 
institutions of the great Christian communities throughout the world, so that the 
consentient tradition of all these Churches ascribes their foundation to the first dis- 
ciples of Jesus Christ, and our Gospels to those whose names they bear; and this 
tradition is confirmed by the universal observance of the sacraments, of the weekly 
Lord's day, and of Easter, the special festival in remembrance of Christ's resurrection. 

3. That no speculative system, based upon the myth of an incarnate God, could have 
started such a revolution in the moral world, as has been produced by Christianity 
for over eighteen centuries, with the manifest destiny to leaven and change the whole 
world, is evident, from the fact, that all the philosophical elements, to which the 
mythical theory attributes the propagation of Christianity, are found in the lofty specu- 
lations of Plato, in the logology of Philo, and a host of Oriental myths, concerning 
incarnations of Deity; but though they were in the world for centuries, they never 
exerted a world-renewing influence. 

4. "With this last effort," says Dr. Schaff, "infidelity seems to have exhausted its 
scientific resources. It can only repeat itself hereafter. Its different theories have all 
been tried and found wanting. One has in turn transplanted and refuted the other, 
even during the lifetime of their champions. They explain nothing in the end ; on the 
contrary, they only substitute an unnatural for a supernatural miracle, an inextricable 



THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 83 

enigma for a revealed mystery. They equally tend to undermine all faith in God's 
providence, in history, and ultimately in every principle of truth arid virtue, and 
they deprive a poor and fallen humanity, in a world of sin, temptation, and sorrow, 
of its only hope and comfort in life and in death. — The same negative criticism which 
Strauss applied to the Gospels, would, with equal plausibility, destroy the strongest 
chain of evidence before a court of justice, and resolve the life of Socrates, or Charle- 
magne, or Luther, or Napoleon, into a mythical dream. The secret of the mythical 
hypothesis is the pantheistic denial of a personal, living God, and the a priori assumption 
of the impossibility of a miracle. In its details it is so complicated and artificial, that 
it can not be made generally intelligible, and in proportion as it is popularized, it 
reverts to the vulgar hypothesis of intentional fraud, from which it professed, at the 
start, to shrink back in horror and contempt." 



84 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



PART III. 

THE HISTORIC VERITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 
§20. INTRODUCTORY REMARKS. 

In the preceding Part, the authenticity of the Gospels has been established by the 
most conclusive evidences. A book, however, may be authentic; that is, it may have 
been written by the author by whom it claims to have been written, and yet have no 
claims upon our confidence ; that is, it may not be credible. Though this is rarely the 
case with historical books, and, in the nature of the case, inapplicable to such records 
as the Gospels, yet, we will consider them for the j)resent, without any reference to 
their containing a divine revelation, and subject them to the same laws of historical 
criticism as may be applied to any historical record. 



OHAPTEE I. 

A CONSIDERATION OP THE OBJECTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN RAISED 
AGAINST THE CREDIBILITY OF THE EVANGELISTS. 

§ 21. The Alleged Discrepancies or Contradictions in the Four Gospels. 

It has been asserted that the Evangelists differ in some of their statements from 
each other to such a degree as to contradict each other. That we find their records 
as different as we should expect them, from independent writers, is admitted ; but it 
can be satisfactorily shown, that they are not of such a nature as to impair their 
character as faithful and trustworthy reporters. The charge of alleged contradictions 
will be refuted in detail, in the interpretation of the respective passages to which 
the charge refers; such, for instance, as the difference with regard to the hour of the 
crucifixion of our Lord. Here we confine ourselves to general remarks: 

1. The differences adduced, consist mostly of omissions by one Evangelist of what 
is mentioned by another, such omissions being regarded by Strauss as equivalent to 
direct negatives.* Throughout his "Life of Jesus," he conceives himself at liberty to 

*With regard to the Annunciation, for instance, Mr. Rawlinson observes, we find the following enumeration 
of discrepancies : " 1. The individual who appears is called, in Matthew, an angel of the Lord; in Luke, the 
angel Gabriel. 2. The person to whom the angel appears is, according to Matthew, Joseph ; according to Luke, 
Mary. 3. In Matthew, the apparition is seen in a dream ; in Luke, while awake. 4. There is a disagreement 
with respect to the time at which the apparition took place. 5. Both, the purpose of the apparition and the 
effect, are different." In this way five discrepancies are created out of the single fact that Matthew does 
not relate the Annunciation to the Virgin, while Luke gives no account of the angelic appearance to Joseph. 
Similarly, in the section where the calling of the first apostles is examined, discrepancies are seen between 
the fourth and the first two Evangelists, in the following respects : " 1. James is absent, according to John's 
Gospel, and, instead of his vocation, we have that of Philip and Nathanael. 2. In Matthew and Mark, the 
ecene is the coast of the Galilean Sea; in John, it is the vicinity of the Jordan. 3. In each representation 



THE HISTORIC VERITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 85 

discard facts recorded by one Evangelist only, on the mere ground of silence on the 
part of the others. Whatever an Evangelist does not record, he is argued not to have 
known ; and his want of knowledge is taken as a proof that the event could not have 
happened. The sophistry of such an argument is apparent. Who will deny that eye- 
witnesses of one and the same event notice a different portion of the attendant circum- 
stances, and that, moreover, those who record an event which they have witnessed, 
omit, ordinarily, by far the greater portion of the attendant circumstances, though 
they have noticed them at the time ! Strauss's cavils could only have been precluded 
by the mere rejoetition, on the part of each Evangelist, of the exact circumstances men- 
tioned by every other — a repetition which would have been considered to mark collusion, 
and which would thus have destroyed their value as distinct and independent witnesses. 
The deviations, therefore, with regard to particular circumstances attending an event, 
are so far from lessening the credibility of the Gospel history, that they rather increase 
it. They are deviations, such as are most sure to appear, wherever there is the highest 
degree of harmlessness, the calmest consciousness of entire truthfulness, and an entire 
absence of collusion. And, suppose we should have to acknowledge the existence of 
a deviation, for which — from a want of a full knowledge of all the attending circum- 
stances — we could not offer a satisfactory explanation; as, for instance, with regard to 
the cure of the blind at Jericho, (Matt, xx, 29, 34; Mark x, 46, 52; Luke xviii, 35, 19) — 
such a concession Avould still leave the credibility of the Gospel history untouched. 
It would only conflict with the verbal inspiration of the Evangelists, but they would 
remain historical authorities of the first order, witnesses as fully to be trusted for the 
circumstances of our Lord's life, as Xenophon for the sayings and doings of Socrates. 
Even Lessing, that severe critic, while he pointed out apparent discrepancies in the 
accounts of Christ's resurrection, did not feel himself justified to reject the fact itself 
on the ground of these discrepancies. "Who," he says, "has ever drawn such an 
inference in profane history? If Livy, Polybius, and Tacitus record the same event, 
but Avith such a difference, as regards the attending circumstances, that the details of 
the one seem irreconcilable to that of the other, is, therefore, the event itself put in 
question? Now, if we deal so trustfully with profane writers, why should we torture 
the Evangelists for every syllable?" To which Tholuck adds: "It will not be easy 
to find two historians in classic antiquity, who, though equally trustworthy, do not 
differ from, or even contradict, each other, when they relate the same event, be it 
from the imperfections of man's faculties of observation and description, or because 
the writers could not anticipate our circumstances and meet our wants. How insoluble 
are often the difficulties which arise from the conflicting testimonies of trustworthy 
witnesses at court! He that would make shipwreck of faith on account of some few 

there are two pairs of brothers ; hut, in the one, they are Andrew and Peter, James and John ; in the other, 
Andrew and Peter, Philip and Nathanael. And, 4. In Matthew and Mark, all are called by Jesus; in John, 
Philip only, the others being directed to hirn by the Baptist." Here, again, we have four discrepancies mado 
out of the circumstance, that the first two Evangelists relate only the actual call of certain disciples, while 
John informs us what previous acquaintance they had of Josus. So, from the mere silence of Matthew, 
Strauss concludes, positively, that he opposes Luke, in not considering Nazareth, but Bethlehem, to have 
been the original residence of our Lord's parents ; from the omission, by the three earlier writers, of the 
journeys into Judea, during our Lord's ministry, ho pronounces that they contradict John, who speaks of 
such journeys ; he finds a discrepancy between this Evangelist's account of the relations between the Baptist 
and our Lord, and the account of the others, since he gives, and they do not give, the testimony borne by 
the former to our Lord's character; he concludes, from Luke's not saying that John the Baptist was in 
prison when he sent his two disciples to our Lord, that he considered him as not yet cast into prison; he 
finds Luke's and Matthew's accounts of the death of Judas "irreconcilable," because Luke says nothing of 
remorse, or of suicide, but relates what has the appearance of a death by accident ; he regards the presence 
of Nicodemus at our Lord's interment, as a "fabrication of the fourth Evangelist," simply because it is 
unnoticed by the others; he concludes, from their silence as to the raising of Lazarus, that "it can not have 
been known to them," and, therefore, that it can not bo true; and, in other instances, too numerous to mention, 
he makes similar use of the mere fact of omission. 



86 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



insignificant discrepancies in the Gospel narratives, would be no greater loss to the 
Church than he would be a gain, who is induced to embrace the faith of the Gospel 
by no weightier argument, than the proof that the Evangelists stated alike every 
particular of each event, and wrote down the words of our Lord verbatim and literatim, 
like stenographers." 

2. By far the greatest number of the so-called discrepancies in the Gospels are of 
a chronological character, and some of them — as, for instance, the journey of Jesus into 
the country of the Gadarenes, which, according to Matthew, was preceded by a number 
of events that followed it according to Mark and Luke — might, indeed, be called con- 
tradictory, if it could be shown that any of the Evangelists designed to furnish us 
with a complete, consecutive account of the ministry of Christ. The very contrary 
of this assumption is an undeniable fact. They evidently do not intend, or pretend, 
to give us more than a selection from the rich materials of the life and labors of their 
Master. All that the Synoptists report of the earlier half of his ministry is confined 
to a few fragments. From Matt, xi, 21, it appears that Christ had endeavored by 
mighty works to call Chorazin to repentance; but neither Matthew nor the other 
Evangelists say any thing of the works of Christ performed there. It has, however, 
been contended, that Luke, in the preface to his Gospel, does claim to give a history of 
Christ in chronological order. But this is not so. Compared with the sketches, which 
some Christians had made in an unauthorized manner, Luke could very properly call 
his work "perfect" and "in order," even though he did not pursue the life of Christ from 
day to day, and week to week, but gave what appeared to him most important, in 
some systematic order. Each of the Evangelists had a plan of his own, according to 
which he arranged and grouped the events, and, therefore, the sequence — called akolou- 
thia — of the events and sermons differs in each of the Synoptists., But if this difference 
in the selection and arrangement of the material in each of the Synoptists has its 
ground in the special plan which each followed, it is evident that this variety implies 
no incongruity or disharmony. The question, whether and how the chronological order 
of the events, recorded by the Evangelists, can be established, belongs to the subject 
of the Harmony of the Gospels, which we shall treat in Part V. It is sufficient to 
remark here, with regard to such sayings and discourses of the Lord as are placed by 
the Evangelists in connection with different occasions, that we are fully justified to 
assume, that similar sayings and discourses were delivered by our Savior more than 
once, at different times and under different circumstances, as appears, for instance, 
clearly from those denunciations of the scribes and Pharisees which were first uttered 
by our Lord on his journey to Jerusalem, (Luke xi, 37,) afterward solemnly repeated 
in the Temple at the close of his public ministry. (Matt, xxiii.) 

§ 22. The Assumption that Miracles are Impossible and Unsusceptible of Proof. 

While German rationalism has vainly tried to disprove the verity of the miracles re- 
corded in the Gospels, that is, to explain away the miraculous nature of these occurrences 
by means of an interpretation, admitted now on all hands to be entirely unauthorized and 
absurd — pantheistic and atheistic philosophy denies the miracles on the plea of their 
impossibility. This stupendous assumption is the basis upon which the criticism of 
Strauss, in his "Life of Jesus," rests. Miracles are declared to be impossible, and, there- 
fore, a narrative of which supernatural occurrences form an essential part, is, just so far, 
said to be devoid of historic character. The thesis that miracles are impossible, im- 
plies, of course, that the word "miracle" is not used in the sense of the Latin "mirabile" 
meaning something wonderful arising from natural causes not known at the time of its 
taking place, or yet unknown. "With this is conceded the proper definition of a mir- 
acle. It is a Divine interposition to accomplish, by special agency, an effect not to be 



THE HISTORIC VERITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 87 

reached in the natural course and order of events. But the denial of the possibility of such 
an interposition — from whatever stand-point the argument is attempted, whether with 
reference to philosophical conceptions of God's nature and attributes, or with reference 
to experience and the empirical laws of Nature, which are said to preclude the possibil- 
ity of a sufficient evidence of the miracle — can be shown to be a mere begging of the 
question. Let us examine this axiom of modern infidelity in its chameleon-like phases, 
which all may be summed up under two general heads. 

I. Spinoza, the father of modern pantheism, to whom God and nature are one, says 
in substance: "A miracle is inconsistent Avith the perfections of the Deity, for it is con- 
ceivable only upon the supposition that the self-manifestation of God in nature proved 
defective, but such a supposition would be irreconcilable with a belief in God's per- 
fection." In this syllogism Spinoza takes for granted: 1. That there is in the universe 
no self-conscious, personal Intelligence, independent of matter, for he defines a miracle, 
at another place, " as something which we can not explain by a natural law, but which has 
always a natural cause," admitting evidently of no other Divinity than what nature mani- 
fests. Matter is to him the only image of his God. 2. That the world is still in its original, 
normal state, its harmony not having been disturbed by sin, the act of free moral agents, 
and that, therefore, there is no need of a Divine interposition for moral purposes, that is, 
for the sake of the moral beings in the physical universe. On the contrary, it is assumed, 
that the universe is governed only by physical laws, not by moral laws, and that a mir- 
acle would be an alteration of the established machinery of nature. 3. That, because 
nature is an expression of God's will, there can be no other expression. It is assumed 
that, because God acts after a particular mode in certain circumstances, he can never 
have reasons for acting after a different manner in other circumstances. It is assumed 
that an addition is an inconsistency, that to superinduce any thing further upon soine- 
thing previously existing is to declare that which thus existed to have been wrong or 
bad. It is evident that, unless these premises can be proved, the pantheistic argument 
against miracles falls to the ground. "The simple question," says Dr. J. Haven, in an 
article on miracles, (Bibl. Sacra, 1862,) "is this: Is there a Deity at all? Or is all power 
to be resolved into this great system of universal, invariable, eternal law — this grand 
machinery of 'eternally-impressed consequences,' that goes grinding and clanking on 
from eternity to eternity? If the latter, then we grant that miracles are out of question. 
Bat if there be a God, as some of us in our simplicity have supposed; if we may crave 
the indulgence of this highly-cultivated age so far as to be permitted to retain the anti- 
quated notion of a Deity at the head of affairs; and if we place this Deity where he 
belongs, behind all those laws, and above them all, as their source and spring, then why 
may not the power that usually works in and by such and such methods or laws, if occa- 
sion requires, act in some other way, without or above those laws? Nay, why may he not, 
if necessary to the accomplishment of his purposes, even reverse, or wholly set aside for 
the time, those usual methods of procedure which we call laws of nature?" We call an 
event natural, when it is produced by natural means or agencies. But God, who created 
these agencies and set them in operation, is himself supernatural, and when he operates 
in nature otherwise than through those so-called natural causes, we call the work super- 
natural. The work of creation is supernatural ; it is a work in nature, proceeding from 
a power above nature. The raising of the dead would be supernatural, for there is no 
physical or physiological law capable of producing such a result. To contend that every 
event or phenomenon must be referred as an effect to a physical law, is simply to deny 
both the existence of a Supreme Intelligence as the original cause or creator, and that 
of the power of self-determination of the human will, either of which being denied, 
neither the possibility of miracles nor any other question of religion or morality is Worth 
speaking about. "Admit, on the other hand, the existence of a free will in man, and 
we have the experience of a power analogous, however inferior, to that which is sup- 



88 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



posed to operate in the production of a miracle, and forming the basis of a legitimate 
argument from the less to the greater — as Twesten shows in his ^orlcfnngen iibcr Mc 
'Soa.trtatif." In the will of man we have the solitary instance of an efficient cause, in the 
highest sense of the term, acting among and along with the physical causes of the mate- 
rial world, and producing results which would not have been brought about by any 
invariable sequence of physical causes left to their own action. We have evidence also 
of an elasticity, so to speak, in the constitution of nature, which permits the influence of 
human powers on the phenomena of the world to be exercised or superseded at will, 
without affecting the stability of the whole. We have thus a precedent for allowing the 
possibility of a similar interference by a higher will on a grander scale, provided for by 
a similar elasticity of the matter subjected to its influence. Such interferences, whether 
produced by human or by superhuman will, are not contrary to the laws of matter; but 
neither are they the result of those laws. They are the work of an agent who is inde- 
pendent of the laws, and who, therefore, neither obeys them nor disobeys them. (See 
9iotl)e ttl ©tllbtcn tint) Sfritifctl, 1858, p. 33.) If a man, of his own free will, throws a 
stone into the air, the motion of the stone, as soon as it has left his hand, is indeed 
determined by a combination of purely-material laws. But by what law came it to be 
thrown at all ? What law brought about the circumstances through which the aforesaid 
combination of material laws came into operation on this particular occasion and in this 
particular manner? The law of gravitation, no doubt, remains constant and unbroken, 
whether the stone is lying on the ground or moving through the air; but neither the 
law of gravitation nor all the laws of matter put together could have brought about this 
particular result, without the interposition of the free will of the man who throws the 
stone. Substitute the will of God for the will of man; and the argument, which in the 
above instance is limited to the ntirrow sphere within which man's powers can be exer- 
cised, becomes applicable to the whole extent of creation and to all the phenomena 
which it embraces." (Mansell on Miracles, p. 28.) As this argument ought to be 
apprehended with the utmost clearness, we will give it as stated by another late English 
writer, Dr. Heurtley, in his refutation of Baden Powell : " The human will is the ele- 
ment, the action of whose disturbing force upon the material system around us comes 
most frequently or most strikingly under our notice. Man, in the exercise of his 
ordinary faculties, is perpetually interfering with, or molding, or controlling the opera- 
tion of those ordinary laws of matter which are in exercise around him. He does so, if 
he does but disturb one pebble in its state of rest, or stay the fall of another before it 
reaches the ground. He does so to a vastly -greater extent when, by means of the appli- 
ances with Avhich art, instructed by science, has furnished him, he projects a ball to the 
distance of four or five miles, or constrains steam, or light, or electricity, or chloroform 
to do his bidding. Still his doings are not miracles, because they do not extend beyond 
the range of his unassisted powers. But what is there in the reason of things to make it 
incredible or even improbable, that God, on special occasions, and for special ends, may 
have endowed some men with superhuman powers, by which the laws of the mateinal 
world may be controlled to an extent beyond what could have been done by unassisted 
nature? or that he may have directed or permitted beings superior in might to man to 
exercise such powers? That he has done so Scripture affirms. To say that it is con- 
trary to experience is to beg the whole question at issue. The fact is, once admit that 
there is a Gad, and that he may, for special reasons, endow man with higher powers, and 
you grant that there are agents who have it in their power to interfere with or control 
the laws ordinarily in operation in the material world, so as to work miracles. Admit, 
further, that there may be an occasion calling for superhuman interference — and such surely 
is the authentication of a revelation containing truths which it was of the utmost conse- 
quence for man to know, but of which, except by revelation, he could know nothing — 
and the possibility is advanced to the highest probability." 



THE HISTORIC VERITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 89 

"We have shown, then, that "a miracle is not a violation of the laws of nature, in any 
sense in which such a violation is impossible or inconceivable. It is simply the intro- 
duction of a new agent, possessing new powers, and, therefore, not included under the 
rules generalized from a previous experience. Its miraculous character, distinguishing 
it from mere new discoveries in nature, consists in the fact that the powers in question 
are supposed to be introduced for a special purpose, and to be withdrawn again when that 
purpose is accomplished, and thus to be excluded from the field of future observation 
and investigation. But the supposition of such powers needs not imply any violation of 
the present laws observed by present natural agents. The laws of nature are simply 
general statements concerning the powers and properties of certain classes of objects 
which have come under our observation. They say nothing about the powers and prop- 
erties of other objects or classes of objects which have not been observed, or which have 
been observed with a different result. There are laws, for instance, of one class of mate- 
rial agents which do not apply to another; and there are laws of matter in general 
which are not applicable to mind; and so there may be other orders of beings of which 
we have no knowledge, the laws of whose action may be different from all that we know 
of mind or body. A violation, in the proper sense of the word, of the laws of nature 
would only take place, if, in two cases in which the cause or antecedent fact were exactly the 
same, the effect or consequent fact were different. But no such irregularity is asserted by 
the believer in miracles. He does not assert that miracles are produced by the abnormal 
action of natural and known causes — on the contrary, he expressly maintains that they 
are produced by a special interposition of Divine power; and that such an interposition, 
constituting in itself a different cause, may reasonably be expected to be folloAved by a 
different effect. So far, then, as a miracle is regarded as the operation of a special cause 
producing a special effect, it offers no antagonism to that general uniformity of nature, 
according to which the same effects will always follow from the same causes. The oppo- 
sition between science and miracle, if any exist, must be sought in another quarter; 
namely, in the assumption that the introduction of a special cause is itself incredible. 
The ground of such an assumption appears to lie in the hypothesis that the existing 
forces of nature are so mutually related to each other that no new power can be intro- 
duced without either disturbing the whole equilibrium of the universe, or involving a 
series of miracles, coextensive with the universe, to counteract such disturbance.' 1 (Man- 
sel, pp. 24, 25.) To the last-named assumption it is sufficient to reply: 1. If we admit the 
personality and, as implied in the personality, the moral nature of God, without which 
admission no religion, no feeling of a spiritual relation between God and man, and no 
conception of a mind superior to nature can have any existence, we may doubtless 
believe that God from the beginning so ordered the constitution of the world as to leave 
room for the exercise of those miraculous powers which he foresaw would, at a certain 
time, bo exercised; just as he has left similar room for the exercise, within narrower 
limits, of the human will. 2. That God should interpose in the uniformities which exist 
among natural phenomena, by introducing a new (miraculous) power, is the less sur- 
prising, as he has permitted man, as a free moral agent, to act contrary to the design for 
which he was created, and thus, by sinning, to violate the originally-established order of 
nature, and the miraculous interposition of God has really for its object to restore the 
order of things which has been disturbed by the fall. 

II. It is assei'ted that "even supposing a miracle were wrought, it would be impos- 
sible to establish the fact by evidence." On what grounds is this assertion made? 
Hume says: "A miracle is contrary to human experience, and, therefore, incredible." 
To state this argument is to refute it. Neither the major nor the minor premise is true. 
To assert that miracles are contrary to all human experience is an assumption which 
begs the whole question in dispute. That miracles are contrary to general experience is 
very true, else they would not be miracles. That they are contrary to all human expo- 



90 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



rience is not true. So far from this, they have become actually the objects of human 
experience in connection with the promulgation both of the Jewish and, afterward, of 
the Christian systems of religion. The facts are well attested, the statements clear, full, 
explicit. The instances, though rare, yet, in the aggregate, are numerous. The wit- 
nesses are many, men of good character and good sense. They testify to plain facts, 
about which there could well be no mistake. They appeal to their cotemporaries for 
the truth of their statements; and that testimony goes uncontradicted, nay, is confirmed, 
by their enemies. Now it is a sheer begging of the question for any man to assert that 
miracles are contrary to human experience, when so many witnesses testify positively to 
the occurrences under their own observation of events, which, if they really did occur as 
stated, must be admitted to be miraculous. The fact that Mr. Hume, or any number of 
men, did not see a miracle, does not prove that nobody has ever seen one. Mere negative 
testimony can not outweigh positive. Nor is the major premise of Mr. Hume's argu- 
ment more tenable. An event is not necessarily incredible, because not known to have 
occurred before. Is it quite certain that nothing can take place in the world which has 
not already taken place? Even if it were conceded, then, as it is not, that miracles are 
contrary to human experience, it by no means follows that they are, on that account, 
necessarily incredible. If in ten thousand millions of occurrences we have found 
nothing but natural occurrences — this will never entitle us, by any logical rule, to declare 
that in no other occurrence can there be supernatural agency. 

Again, it is said: "You can not prove a miracle, as it is beyond the capacity of a man 
to tell what powers are in nature. You may show us a phenomenon inexplicable in our 
present state of knowledge, but this does not prove it to be beyond agencies of nature 
as yet undiscovered by man." It is sufficient to reply to this, that, though we do not 
know the full extent of the powers of nature, there are some things — just such things as 
the works actually recorded as having been done by Christ and his apostles — of which 
we are quite certain that they are not within the range of natural agency. Moreover, 
" in proportion as the science of to-day surpasses that of former generations, so is the 
improbability that any man could have wrought in past times, by natural means, works 
which no skill of the present age is able to imitate. The effect, therefore, of scientific 
progress, as regards Scriptural miracles, is gradually to eliminate the hypothesis which 
refers them to unknown natural causes, and to reduce the question to the following altern- 
ative : Either the recorded acts were not performed at all, or they were performed, as 
their authors themselves declare, by virtue of a supernatural power consciously exercised 
for that very purpose. The theory which attempts to explain them as distorted state- 
ments of events reducible to known natural causes, has been tried by the rationalists of 
Germany, and has failed so utterly as to preclude all expectation of its revival, even in 
the land of its birth. There remains only the choice between accepting the sacred 
narrative as a true account of miracles actually performed, and rejecting it as wholly 
fictitious and incredible; whether the fiction be attributed to the gradual accretion of 
mythical elements, or — for a later criticism has come back again to the older and more 
intelligible theory — to the conscious fabrication of a willful impostor." (Mansel, pp. 22, 
23.) Again, it is said by Strauss, and repeated by a writer in the late "Essays and 
Eeviews:" "No testimony can reach to the supernatural; testimony can apply only to 
apparent, sensible facts; testimony can only prove an extraordinary and perhaps inex- 
plicable occurrence or phenomenon: that it is due to supernatural causes is entirely 
dependent on the previous belief and assumptions of the parties." To this Mansel (pp. 14, 
15) makes the pertinent and weighty reply: "It may, with certain exceptions, be appli- 
cable to a case in which the assertion of a supernatural cause rests solely on the testi- 
mony of the spectator of the fact; but it is not applicable to those in which the cause is 
declared by the performer. Let us accept, if we please, merely as a narrative of ' appar- 
ent, sensible facts,' the history of the cure of the blind and dumb demoniac, or of the lame 



THE HISTORIC VERITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 91 

man at the Beautiful Gate ; but we can not place the same restriction upon the words of 
our Lord, and of Peter, which expressly assign the supernatural cause: 'If I cast out devils 
by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you,' (Matt, xii, 28,) and, 
'By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth doth this man stand here before you whole,' 
(Acts iv, 10.) We have here, at least, a testimony reaching to the supernatural ; and if 
that testimony be admitted in these cases, it may be extended to the whole series of won- 
derful Avorks performed by the same persons. For if a given cause can be assigned as 
the true explanation of any single occurrence of the series, it becomes at once the most 
reasonable and probable explanation of the remainder. . . . One miracle is enough 
to show that the series of events with which it is connected is one which the Almighty 
has seen fit to mark by exceptions to the ordinary course of his providence; and, if this 
be once granted, we have no a priori grounds on which we can determine how many of 
such exceptions are to be expected. If a single miracle recorded in the Gospels be once 
admitted, the remainder cease to have any special antecedent improbability, and may be 
established by the same evidence, which is sufficient for ordinary events." Again, we 
are told: "In nature, and from nature, by science and by reason, we neither have, nor 
can possibly have, any evidence of a Deity working miracles; for that we must go out of 
nature and beyond reason. If we could have any such evidence from nature, it could 
only prove extraordinary natural effects, which would not be miracles in the old theolog- 
ical sense, as isolated, unrelated, and uncaused ; whereas, no physical fact can be conceived 
as unique, or without analogy and relation to others, and to the whole system of natural 
causes." To this Dr. J. Haven, quoted above, replies: "True, that which is from nature, 
that is, produced by natural causes, can not be supernatural ; but it is not true that in 
nature, that is, within the limits and domain of nature, there can be no occurrence of 
the supernatural. Nor is it true that whatever is beyond the power of natural causes to 
produce is, therefore, beyond the domain of reason to investigate, and must be received, 
if at all, only by a blind and unquestioning faith. That is not for a moment to be con- 
ceded. That which is extra-natural is not of necessity incapable of proof. The question 
whether a dead man was, on a certain occasion, restored to life, is a question to be settled 
wholly by evidence and investigation of reason. If the event did occur, clearly it was 
supernatural; the laws and forces of nature are not adequate to produce such a result. 
But did it occur? That is the real question; and it is a question which falls as clearly 
and fully within the range of rational investigation, and the laws of evidence, as any 
question in physical science." One word more with reference to a phrase which Strauss 
and a writer in the "Essays and Reviews" use in place of an argument, "that miracles 
are inconceivable by reason." This phrase can certainly not mean that we can not have* 
an idea of a miracle, for we can easily form the idea or notion of an event in nature — for 
instance, of a person rising from the dead, with a cause beyond nature. Those who use 
it no doubt mean by it, that a miracle is contrary to intuitive reason, that is, to a funda- 
mental law or constitutional principle of the mind; such, for instance, as the law of 
causation. If this were the case, Ave grant that it would be impossible to establish a 
miracle. But Avhat constitutional law of the mind is contradicted by a miracle? None 
has been named. It is certainly not the law of causation; for a supernatural event is 
not declared to be an effect without a cause; it is merely an effect not resulting from the 
agencies Avorking in that system which we call nature. The principle of cause and effect 
must not be confounded with the principle of the uniformity of nature. While the 
former is universal, the latter is only partial; it declares, for instance, that fire left to 
itself will burn, but it does not say that fire may not be counteracted by a higher and 
Divine agency. Upon a disregarding of this distinction rests the assertion that a mir- 
acle is contrary to experience. Inductive philosophy has shown that there is a set of 
agencies working in nature, and that there is uniformity in their operations. All this is 
freely granted; but when it is said that there can be nothing else, we demand the proof 



92 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



that every occurrence must have a physical or mundane cause. To this demand infidelity 
has never given a response. 

"We have now met the assumption of the impossihility of miracles in all its various 
phases. The verity of the miracles recorded in the Gospel history rests upon the credi- 
bility of the Evangelists, and upon the divine seal which the subject of their narrative, 
Jesus Christ, stamps upon the whole Gospel history. 

§23. The Alleged Lack of Sufficient Testimony by Profane Writers. 

The verification by profane writers of the many incidental allusions to the civil his- 
tory of the times, which the writings of the Evangelists furnish, has been set forth in 
§ 16. In §18 of the same chapter we have seen that the existence, at this time, of one 
called by his followers Christ, the place of his teaching, his execution by Pontius Pilate, 
Procurator of Judea under Tiberius, the rapid spread of his doctrine through the Eoman 
world, the vast number of converts made in a short time, the persecutions which they un- 
derwent, the innocency of their lives, their worship of Christ as God, are witnessed to by 
heathen writers of eminence, and would be certain and indisputable facts, had the New 
Testament never been written. To expect from profane sources a testimony concerning 
the supernatural facts recorded by the Evangelists would be absurd, since those who 
believed them naturally and almost necessarily became Christians. 

It has, however, been urged that, assuming the historical truth of the New Testament 
narrative, we might have expected far more frequent and fuller notices of the Christian 
religion and its Pounder than the remains of antiquity furnish. It has, for instance, 
been said that Josephus ought to have said more of Christ ; and Seneca, the brother of 
Gallio, the observant Pausanias, the voluminous Plutarch, the copious Dio, the exact 
Arian, should have made frequent mention of Christianity in their writings, instead of 
almost wholly ignoring it. To this objection Mr. Eawlinson makes the following reply: 

"Let it be considered, in the first place, whether the very silence of these writers is 
not a proof of the importance which in their hearts they assigned to Christianity, and 
the difficulty which they felt in dealing with it — whether, in fact, it is not a forced and 
studied reticence — a reticence so far from being indicative of ignorance that it implies 
only too much knowledge, having its origin in a feeling that it was best to ignore what 
it was unpleasant to confess and impossible to meet satisfactorily. Pausanias must 
certainly have been aware that the shrines of his beloved gods were in many places 
deserted, and that their temples were falling into decay, owing to the conversion of the 
mass of the people to the new religion; we may be sure he inwardly mourned over this 
sad spirit of disaffection — this madness, as he must have thought it, of a degenerate age; 
but no word is suffered to escape him on the painful subject; he is too jealous of his 
gods' honor to allow that there are any who dare to insult them. Like the faithful 
retainer of a fallen house, he covers up the shame of his masters, and bears his head so 
much the more proudly, because of their depressed condition. Again, it is impossible 
that Epictetus could have been ignorant of the wonderful patience and constancy of the 
Christian martyrs, of their marked contempt of death, and general indifference to 
worldly things; he must, one would think, as a Stoic, have been moved with a secret 
admiration of those great models of fortitude, and if he had allowed himself to speak 
freely, could not but have made frequent reference to them. The one contemptuous 
notice, which is all that Arian reports, sufficiently indicates his knowledge; the entire 
silence, except in this passage, upon what it so nearly concerned a Stoical philosopher to 
bring forward, can only be viewed as the studied avoidance of a topic which would have 
been unpalatable to his hearers, and to himself perhaps not wholly agreeable. The phi- 
losopher who regarded himself as raised by study and reflection to an exalted hight 
above the level of ordinary humanity, would not be altogether pleased to find that his 



THE HISTORIC VEEITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 93 

elevation was attained through the power of religion, which he looked on as mere fanat- 
icism. Thus, from different motives — from pride, from policy, from fear of offending the 
chief of the State, from real attachment to the old heathenism, and tenderness for it — 
the heathen writers who witnessed the birth and growth of Christianity united in a reti- 
cence which causes their notices of the religion to be a very insufficient measure of the 
place which it really held in their thoughts and apprehensions. A large allowance is to 
be made for this studied silence in estimating the value of the actual testimonies to the 
truth of the New Testament narrative adducible from heathen writers of the first and 
second centuries. 

"And the silence of Josephus is, more plainly still, willful and affected. It is quite 
impossible that the Jewish historian should have been ignorant of the events which had 
drawn the eyes of so many to Judea but a few years before his own birth, and which a 
large and increasing sect believed to possess a supernatural character. Jesus of Naza- 
reth was, humanly speaking, at least as considerable a personage as John the Baptist, 
and the circumstances of his life and death must have attracted at least as much atten- 
tion. There was no good reason why Josephus, if he had been an honest historian, 
should have mentioned the latter and omitted the former. He had grown to manhood 
during the time that Christianity was being spread over the world; he had probably 
witnessed the tumults excited against Paul by his enemies at Jerusalem, (Acts xxi, 27, 
etc.; xxii, 22, 23; xxiii, 10;) he knew of the irregular proceedings against 'James, the 
Lord's brother,' (Gal. i, 9;) he must have been well acquainted with the persecutions 
which the Christians had undergone at the hands of both Jews and heathen; at any 
rate he could not fail to be at least as well informed as Tacitus on the subject of transac- 
tions of which his own country had been the scene, and which had fallen partly within 
his own lifetime. When, therefore, we find that he is almost entirely silent concerning 
the Christian religion, and, if he mentions Christ at all, mentions him only incidentally 
in a single passage, as, 'Jesus, who was called Christ;' when we find this, we can not but 
conclude that, for some reason or other, the Jewish historian practices an intentional 
reserve, and will not enter upon a subject which excites his fears or offends his preju- 
dices. No conclusions inimical to the historic accuracy of the New Testament can rea- 
sonably be drawn from the silence of a writer who determinedly avoids the subject. 

"Further, in estimating the value of that direct evidence of adversaries to the main 
facts of Christianity which remains to us, we must not overlook the probability that 
much evidence of this kind has perished. The books of the early opponents of Chris- 
tianity, Avhich might have been of the greatest use to us for the confirmation of the 
Gospel history, were, with an unwise zeal, destroyed by the first Christian Emperors. 
Other testimony of the greatest importance has perished by the ravages of time. It 
seems certain that Pilate remitted to Tiberius an account of the execution of our Lord, 
and the grounds of it; and that this document, to which Justin Martyr more than once 
alludes, was deposited in the archives of the empire. The Acts of Pilate,' as they were 
called, seem to have contained an account, not only of the circumstances of the cruci- 
fixion, and the grounds upon which the Eoman Governor regarded himself as justified 
in passing sentence of death upon the accused, but also of the miracles of Christ." 

Dr. Kurtz remarks, in his Church History: "Among genuine non-Biblical testimonies 
about Christ, probably the most ancient is a Syriac letter of Mara, addressed to his son 
Serapion, written about the year 73. Mara, a man thoroughly versed in Greek philos- 
ophy, but not satisfied with the consolations it offered, writes from his place of exile a 
letter of comfort and instruction to his son, in which he ranks Christ along with 
Socrates and Pythagoras; he honors him as a wise king; he charges the Jews with his 
murder, declares that thereby they had brought upon themselves the destruction of their 
commonwealth, but that Christ continued to live in the new law which he had given." 



94 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 

CHAPTEE II. 

THE CREDIBILITY OP THE EVANGELISTS* 

§ 24. The Evangelists weee in a Condition to inform themselves accurately 
and thoroughly concerning the things which they record. 

Two of them were the chosen and almost constant companions of the wonderful 
person whose life they describe ; they listened to his public discourses, they enjoyed his 
familiar intercourse and private instruction, they were eye-witnesses of his miracles, and 
consequently received them on the testimony of their own senses. Certainly no other 
biographer ever enjoyed such opportunities of informing himself thoroughly concerning 
the subject of his narrative. Even cotemporary historians rarely see the facts which 
they relate; they are often in a distant country from that in which the event happened, 
and are informed of it only by public reports, which are seldom faithful in all points. 
If it happens that an author be at the same time both historian and witness — that he has 
accompanied the general whose actions he relates, as, for instance, Polybius accompanied 
Scipio — that he has been his particular confident — we set a high value upon his memoirs, 
and should consider it an act of injustice to call them in question without solid proofs. If 
Plato has been deemed a competent witness, and in every respect qualified to compose 
the biographical account of his master, Socrates, surely the Evangelists were equally- 
competent witnesses of the facts which they have related. 

It is true, two of them were not eye-witnesses; but they received their information 
from eye-witnesses, and their accounts agree in every essential point with those of the 
eye-witnesses; though it is evident, at the same time, that they did not know, or paid 
no regard to what others had before written on the same subject. (See more on this 
subject, § 32.) 

§25. The Evangelists Exhibit in their Narratives no Symptom op Mental De- 
rangement, WHICH MIGHT HAVE MADE THEM VICTIMS OP SELP-I>ELUSI0N. 

To every candid reader of the Gospels the certainty of the assertion made in the 
heading is self-evident, and a contrary supposition seems unworthy of an answer. 
Yet, as there are so many who condemn the Gospels without having subjected them 
to a candid examination, we will show how unreasonable it is to suspect the Evan- 
gelists of being the victims of self-delusion. In the first place, let it be borne in mind 
that their testimony did not relate to certain abstract doctrinal points, concerning which 
they might have erred through some mental defect. It respected facts concerning the 
reality of which they could not be misled. They became the disciples of Jesus Christ 

*The argument to be presented in this chapter has been stated at large in all the English works on the " Evi- 
dences of Christianity." We follow substantially Home's Introduction, deviating, however, from that author in 
the order of the argumentation, and basing the personal credibility of the Evangelists upon the preceding proofs 
of the authenticity of the writings ascribed to them. If the Gospel records have been written by the persons 
whose names they bear, it can not be denied that they were written by men who were possessed of a full knowl- 
edge of all they relate, and who had no conceivable motive to deviate from the truth. The credibility of a histo- 
rian is established when there is sufficient evidence, 1. That he has had ample means of knowing the truth 
of the facts he relates, either by being himself an eye-witness, or by deriving his knowledge from an eye-witness ; 
2. That he is a man of a sound mind, free from any mental bias to self-deception ; 3. That he is above the sus- 
picion of having any motive or design to mislead his readers. Though historical works are generally accepted 
without a special inquiry into these criteria of credibility, being rejected only where there is positive proof that 
the historian is destitute either of the ability or of the willingness to report correctly, the Gospel history can chal- 
lenge its being subjected to the severest tests of historical criticism. 



THE HISTORIC VERITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 95 

upon rational conviction, not upon internal persuasion alone, but on the irrefragable evi- 
dence of clear and stupendous miracles, proofs submitted to their senses, and approved 
by their reason — such proofs as enthusiasm could not have counterfeited, and never 
would have required; and at every step of their progress, as their faith was called to sig- 
nalize itself by new exertions, or to sustain new trials, it was fortified by new proofs. 
The slowness and caution with which the apostles received the fact of their Lord's resur- 
rection from the dead fully exempt them from all suspicion of being the dupes of delusion 
and credulity. In the second place, the style of enthusiasts is always obscure, arrogant, 
and violent; the style of the Evangelists is the very reverse of this, plain, calm, and 
unexaggerated, detailing the facts which establish the unparalleled perfection of their 
divine Lord with the particularity and consistency of truth. Moreover, they do that 
which enthusiasts never do; they record their own mistakes, follies, and faults, and those 
of very serious magnitude, acknowledged to be such by themselves, and severely cen- 
sured by their Master. Nor do we discover in the Gospels any effusion of passion and 
imagination, such as we find invariably in the writings of enthusiasts. 

§26. The Evangelists can not be charged with having had any Motive or De- 
sign TO IMPOSE UPON THE WORLD WHAT, IF IT DID NOT TAKE PLACE, 
THEY MUST HAVE KNOWN TO BE FALSE. 

No man of sense or candor ever dared to make such a charge. It is self-evident 
that, if the first disciples of Jesus, had any disposition to commit such a fraud, it 
would have been impossible for them to succeed in it with their cotemporaries ; and 
that, even if they could have done it, they would not have had a conceivable motive for 
it. No man will propagate a deliberate falsehood without having some advantage in 
view, either immediate or remote. Now, the first teachers of Christianity could have no 
prospect whatever of any advantage. They could expect none from him in whom they 
professed to believe. Jesus Christ, indeed, had warned them to expect persecution, igno- 
miny, and death in this world, if they continued to be his disciples. They could not 
expect any honors or emoluments from the hands of the Jews and heathens, who perse- 
cuted them with unrelenting severity. They could not expect to acquire wealth, for 
their profession of the Christian faith subjected them to the loss of all things. Moreover, 
according to their own principles, either as Jews or Christians, they involved themselves 
in eternal misery if they made themselves guilty of propagating a deliberate falsehood. 
Again, how incredible that the sublimest precepts of piety and virtue should have been 
delivered by men of such abandoned principles, as they must have been, if they had 
really been impostors! How incredible that the first disciples should have been willing 
to die for the cause of Christ, who, if he had not risen again from the dead, would have 
miserably deceived them! Lastly, if the apostles and Evangelists had designed to 
impose upon mankind, they would have accommodated themselves to the opinions and 
inclinations of the people whom they addressed ; they would carefully have avoided say- 
ing any thing that might offend them; but, instead of this, they did not spare the preju- 
dices and corruptions of their cotemporaries. 

That the Evangelists were, on the contrary, men of the strictest integrity and sin- 
cerity is, as has been already remarked from another stand-point, manifest from the style 
and manner of their writings. There are no artful transitions or connections, no effort 
to set off a doubtful action and reconcile it to some other, or to the character of the 
person that did it. They do not dissemble certain circumstances in the life and suffer- 
ings of their Master which have no tendency to enhance his glory in the eyes of the 
world: such as the low circumstances of his parents, the mean accommodations of his 
birth — that, when he appeared publicly to the world, his townsmen and near relations 
despised and rejected him — that few among his followers were men conspicuous for 



96 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



wealth, dignity, or knowledge — that the rulers, the scribes and Pharisees disowned his 
pretensions and opposed him continually — that some, who for a time followed him, after- 
ward deserted him — that he was betrayed into the hands of high-priests and rulers by 
one of those who had been selected for his constant conrpanions. Impostors would cer- 
tainly have acted differently. 

The same integrity and fidelity we find in what they record concerning themselves. 
They honestly acknowledge not only the lowness of their station, but also the inveteracy 
of their national prejudices, the slowness of their apprehension, the weakness of their 
faith, the ambition of some of the disciples, the intolerant temper of others, and the 
worldly views of all. They even tell us of their cowardice in deserting their Master 
when he was seized by his enemies; and that, after his crucifixion, they had for a while 
given up their hopes in their Master, notwithstanding all the proof that had been exhib- 
ited, and the conviction which they had before entertained that he was the Messiah, and 
his religion was from God. They mention, with many affecting circumstances, the 
incredulity of one of their number, who was convinced of the reality of their Lord's 
resurrection only by ocular and sensible demonstration. They might have concealed 
their mental and moral deficiencies, or, at least, they might have alleged some reasons 
to extenuate them. But they did no such thing. They related, without disguise, events 
and facts just as they happened, and left them to speak for themselves. 

In short, it does not appear that it ever entered the minds of these writers to consider 
how this or the other action would appear to mankind, or what objections might be 
raised against it. Greater marks of sincerity than those which the Evangelists bear it is 
impossible to find in any historical compositions that are extant; they convince their 
readers, in all they have written, that they published nothing to the world but what 
they believed themselves. When they relate any of the miracles of Jesus Christ, or the 
exercise of the miraculous powers with which they were endowed, they relate these 
astonishing facts, without any ornaments of language, in the most concise and simple 
manner; saying nothing previously to raise expectation, nor after the recital of them 
breaking out into exclamations, but they leave the reader to draw his own conclusion. 
When they narrate the resurrection and ascension of Christ they afford no explanation 
of any difficulties; they never offer a single argument to enforce their credit; they leave 
the bare facts with their readers, who may receive or reject them. In perusing the 
simple and unadorned narratives of the Evangelists it is impossible not to feel that the 
purport of their writing was to bear witness of the truth. 

Finally, the same striking integrity characterizes the Evangelists when speaking of 
their enemies. Of all who were concerned in the persecution and death of Christ, they 
mention by name only the high-priest Caiaphas and his coadjutor Annas, the Eoman 
Procurator Pilate, and the treacherous disciple Judas. The suppression of their names 
would have impaired the evidence of their history to posterity; but not the slightest 
tincture of resentment is observable in the notice of these persons. The epithet attached 
to Judas by all the Evangelists — 8 irapadobs, who delivered him up — is expressive of the 
simple fact rather than of its criminality, which latter would more aptly be signified by 
TtpuSorrji;, traitor, as he is styled on one solitary occasion. 



THE HISTORIC VERITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 97 



OIAPTEE III. 

THE DIVINE SEAL STAMPED UPON THE GOSPEL HISTORY BY ITS 
SUBJECT, THE PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST. 

§ 27. The Verity op the Gospel History best accredited by the Personality 

of Jesus Christ. 

After having proved that the canonical Gospels were written in the apostolic age, 
and having found no testimony contrary to the consentient tradition of Christian 
antiquity in regard to their having been written by the persons whose names they 
bear, we placed them on no higher ground than other ancient productions. We have, 
thus far, considered them merely as human productions, and subjected them, as such, to 
the common laws of historical criticism. The result of this critical investigation has 
been, that we found them to bear the highest marks of human credibility— such as no 
other historical work of antiquity has. The assumption that miracles are impossible, 
and that, therefore, credibility can not be claimed for a record of miracles, we have met 
by showing, on metaphysical grounds, that, and why, miracles are not impossible, and 
that, therefore, the miraculous elements of the Gospel history are not incompatible with 
its credibility. But we have now to go a step further, and produce the positive proofs 
of the historic verity of the miracles recorded in the Gospels. 

Instead of basing the truth of Gospel history and the Divinity of Christ upon the 
miracles recorded by the Evangelists, we may prove the historic verity of the miracles 
and the Divinity of Christ by the unparalleled perfectness of the moral and intellectual 
character of the man Jesus of Nazareth, as he is presented to us by the plain and honest 
fishermen of Galilee. "Demanding nothing more," says Mr. Young, in his Christ of 
History, "than the simple humanity of Jesus of Nazareth, we shall venture from this plat- 
form to assert and expound his true Divinity. Dismissing all preconceptions, however 
fondly cherished, and however long adopted into the faith of the Churches, assuming 
nothing which is not virtually and even formally admitted by enemies as well as friends, 
we hope to show that the manhood o£-Christ, as it appealed to the senses and the minds 
of the men of his own times, supplies and sustains the proof of his Godhood. Behold 
only the man Jesus — he shall indicate and demonstrate his union with absolute Godhead. 
Such a humanity as his is utterly inexplicable, except on the ground of true Divinity."* 

From this stand-point it is our object to show that the character and life of Jesus 
could not possibly have been the natural product of the times and country in which the 
Gospel records incontestably originated — nor, indeed, of any other age or country; that 

*Mr. Norton, though not admitting the perfect exhibition of moral excellence in the teachings and actions of 
Christ, as an intrinsic proof of his Divinity proper, nevertheless argues from it the truthfulness of the Gospel records. 
His argument is this : " The Gospels contain an exhibition of character incomparably more wonderful than is to be 
found in any other writings. It is the character of a messenger from God, assuming in his name the highest 
authority, constantly exercising supernatural powers, and appearing among men for the purpose of making them 
acquainted with God, with their own immortal nature, with their duty, and with those ennobling and awful sanc- 
tions by which it is enforced. He is represented as discovering to men a perfect system of religion. He always 
appears, whether teaching, or acting, or suffering, as displaying the highest excellence. His character is every- 
where consistent with itself and with the supernatural dignity of his office, though he is represented as passing 
through scenes the most trying and humiliating. We have, then, in these writings a just conception of a perfect 
system of religion, as taught by a Divine teacher, assuming the highest authority and exercising the most extra- 
ordinary powers, and displaying throughout a character in which we discover nothing but what is excellent and 
sublime. Now, the writers of the Gospels derived those conceptions which we find in their works either from 
reality or from their own imaginations. If it be contended that these writers did not draw from reality, but from 

7 



98 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



the moral and intellectual perfectness of the character of Jesus, and the wonderful 
harmony and consistency of his doctrines and works, could not possibly have been con- 
ceived and delineated by the Evangelists, unless they had been actually witnessed by 
them; that the moral and intellectual perfectness of Jesus imparts to the testimony he 
gives of himself, as well as to the miracles which the Evangelists ascribe to him, a verity 
absolutely unassailable; and, finally, that the unparalleled human perfection of Jesus — 
which by almost universal consent, even of unbelievers, rises far above every human 
greatness known before or since — can not be rationally explained, except on the ground 
of such an essential union with the Godhead as he claimed himself, and as the Evangelists 
ascribed to him. Thus, as the eye of a traveler at the foot of a mountain may slowly 
travel up the majestic slope till it is lost in the clouds or dazzling glories of the summit, 
so the mind may contemplate Christ from his lowliest and most human traits, where he 
is one with the humblest human being, up beyond the highest reach and limit of human- 
ity, "far above all principalities, and powers, and every name that is named," to that 
dazzling summit of glory where he is one with God. 

From whatever point of view we examine the human character and earthly life of 
Jesus, whether we contemplate the circumstances, times, and country in which he lived, 
or his moral and intellectual grandeur, or the testimony he gives of his own person, or 
the nature of the miracles ascribed to him, we shall be compelled, by a strictly -historical 
process, to acknowledge the justness of the deductions named above. This new homage 
to the Savior was first paid by the modern Evangelical theology of Germany. Dr. 0. 
Ullmann opened the way by his work on "The Sinlessness of Jesus an Evidence of Chris- 
tianity;" and, ever since the appearance of that classical work, greater prominence has 
been given by English, as well as German theologians, to the ethical element and human 
perfection of Christ. This branch of apologetical literature, in the English language, 
has been also enriched by Dr. John Young in his "Christ of History," by Dr. Horace 
Bushnell in his "Nature and the Supernatural," and by the theological tract of Dr. 
Schaff, entitled, "The Moral Character of Christ, or the Perfection of Christ's Humanity, 
a Proof of his Divinity." 

§ 28. The admitted outer Conditions of the Life of Jesus — Leaving its astound- 
ing Results, as well as the unlimited Scope of the Mind of Jesus and the 
Perfect Symmetry of his Character, utterly Inexplicable without 
the Admission of a Supernatural and Divine Element. 

The most destructive criticism finds itself compelled to admit that Jesus of Nazareth 
is a historical personage, that he was a resident in the obscure village of Nazareth till 
about thirty years old, a carpenter's son, poor, unlearned, unbefriended, and that he was 
put to an ignominious death by the Jewish hierarchy a few years after he had appeared 
in public. 

imagination — the answer to this supposition is, that the conceptions of moral excellence and sublimity which we 
find displayed and embodied in their writings would imply a transcendent genius and force of mind to which there 
is no parallel, which it is impossible should have existed in four anonymous, unknown authors, and which are 
irreconcilable with the actual want of extraordinary talents, and of skill in composition, that is discovered in 
their works. These conceptions likewise would imply a correctness of moral principle, and a purity and sublimity 
of moral feeling, which could not exist in union with intentional falsehood. The argument, therefore, is briefly 
this, that the religion and morality of the Gospels, as exhibited in the doctrines, precepts, and life of Christ, are 
such as could not have been conceived and represented by the writers of the Gospels if they had not had a living 
archetype before them ; and that, without such an archetype, the power of conceiving and representing what we 
find in the Gospels, if it ever existed in any human being, would necessarily imply that that extraordinary being 
had a character which entitled him to perfect confidence. It was wholly out of the power of the writers of the 
Gospels to deceive us, as they must have done, supposing their representations false ; and the very existence of 
such a power, in any case, would in itself imply the absence of all will to deceive. The intrinsic character of these 
writings, therefore, affords positive evidence of their historic verity as to all essential facts." 



THE HISTORIC VERITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 99 

It is utterly inconceivable that such circumstances and conditions would have been 
made by any Jewish writer the substratum of the miraculous life of the Messiah. And 
it is equally inconceivable that a mere man, under such circumstances and conditions, 
could have become the turning-point of the world's history, accomplishing what neither 
the wisdom of the wisest, nor the power of the mightiest, neither philosophers nor 
emperors could accomplish. This Mr. Young, the author of "The Christ of History," 
has set forth in a very minute and complete argumentation, of which we will give the 
main points: Ordinarily the early life and social position of a man are the true key to 
the proper understanding of his future character and career. To this rule the life of 
Jesus makes an unqualified exception. In his early training and position there is nothing 
that but distantly accounts for his subsequent relation to the world. His life stands out a 
mysterious exception from all laws which generally govern the destiny of men; what he 
became and accomplished could not possibly be the natural development of earlier impres- 
sions received through favorable circumstances. He grew up among a people seldom and 
only contemptuously named by the ancient classics, and subjected at the time to the yoke 
of a foreign oppressor; in a remote and conquered province of the Eoman Empire; in the 
darkest district of Palestine; in a little country town of proverbial insignificance; in 
poverty and manual labor, in the obscurity of a carpenter's shop; without the help of lit- 
erary culture, as is testified by the surprise of the Jews, who knew all his human relations 
and antecedents. "How knoweth this man letters," they asked, when they heard Jesus 
teach, "having never learned?" (John vii, 15.) This question is unavoidable and unan- 
swerable, if Christ be regarded a mere man. For each effect presupposes a corresponding 
cause. The difficulty here presented can by no means be solved by a reference to the 
fact that many, perhaps the majority of great men, especially in the Church, have risen 
by their own industry and perseverance from the lower walks of life, and from a severe 
contest with poverty and obstacles of every kind. The fact itself is readily conceded ; 
but in every one of these cases, schools, or books, or patrons and friends, or peculiar 
events and influences, can be pointed out, as auxiliary aids in the development of intel- 
lectual or moral greatness. There is always some human or natural cause, or combina- 
tion of causes, which accounts for the final result. In the case of Christ no such natural 
explanation can be given. All the attempts to bring him into contact with Egyptian 
wisdom, or the Essenic theosophy, or other sources of learning, are without a shadow of 
proof; and, even if he had been in connection with some sources of learning, the phe- 
nomenon he presents would remain unexplained, for, as we shall show, he taught the 
world as one who had learned nothing from it, and was under no obligation to it. 

Another fact in the life of Jesus which leaves its astounding results unexplained on 
natural grounds, is his early death. On this point we will quote Mr. Young in full: "He, 
whom Christians recognize as the Eedeemer of the world, was only a youth. Whether 
his religion be regarded as a system of doctrines, or as a body of laws, or as a source of 
extraordinary influence, it is passing strange that he should have died in early life. His 
brief period of existence afforded no opportunity for maturing any thing. In point of 
fact, while he lived he did very little in the common sense of doing. He originated no 
series of well-concerted plans, he neither contrived nor put in motion any extended 
machinery, he entered into no correspondence with jDarties in his own country and in 
other regions of the world, in order to spread his influence and obtain cooperation. Even 
the few who were his constant companions, and were warmly attached to his person, were 
not, in his lifetime, imbued with his sentiments, and were not prepared to take up his work 
in his spirit after he was gone. He constituted no society with its name, design, and laws 
all definitely fixed and formally established. He had no time to construct and to organ- 
ize, his life was too short; and almost all that he did was to speak. He spoke in familiar 
conversation with his friends, or at the wayside to passers-by, or to those who chose to 
consult him, or to large assemblies, as opportunity offered. He left behind him a few 



100 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



spoken truths — not a line or word of writing — and a certain spirit incarnated in his 
principles, and breathed out from his life, and then he died. In the ordinary course of 
events the memory of a mere youth, however distinguished, would soon have utterly 
perished from among men. But Jesus lives in the world at this moment, and has influ- 
enced the world from his death till now. This is an unquestioned fact. There have 
been multitudes in all the ages since his death, and at this moment, after nearly two 
thousand years, there are multitudes to whom he is dearer than life. History tells of 
warriors who reached the summit of their fame in comparative youth; it tells of men of 
science also, and of scholars, and of statesmen, who in youth rose to great and envied 
distinction. But the difference is obvious, and it is wide between the conquest of terri- 
tory and the conquest of minds — between scientific, literary, or political renown and 
moral, spiritual influence and excellence. Is there an instance of a man who died in 
youth, gaining vast influence of a purely-spiritual kind, not by force of arms, and not by 
secular aid in any form, but simply and only by his principles and his life — of such a 
man transmitting that influence through successive generations, and after two thousand 
years retaining it in all its freshness, and continuing, at that distance of time, to estab- 
lish himself, and to reign almightily in the minds and hearts of myriads of human beings? 
If there be, or any thing approaching to it, where is it? There is not such an example 
in the whole history of the world, except Jesus Christ." 

"There is," says Dr. Schaff, "another striking distinction of a general character 
between Christ and the heroes of history. We should naturally suppose that such an 
uncommon personage, setting up the most astounding claims and proposing the most 
extraordinary work, would surround himself with extraordinary circumstances, and 
maintain a position far above the vulgar and degraded multitude around him. We 
should expect something uncommon and striking in his look, his dress, his manner, his 
mode of speech, his outward life, and the train of his attendants. But the very reverse 
is the case. His greatness is singularly unostentatious, modest and quiet, and, far from 
repelling the beholder, it attracts and invites him to familiar approach. His public life 
never moved on the imposing arena of secular heroism, but within the humble circle of 
every-day life, and the simple relations of a son, a brother, a citizen, a teacher, and a 
friend. He had no army to command, no kingdom to rule, no prominent station to 
fill, no worldly favors and rewards to dispense. He was a humble individual, without 
friends and patrons in the Sanhedrim, or at the court of Herod. He never mingled in 
familiar intercourse with the religious or social leaders of the nation, whom he had 
startled in his twelfth year by his questions and answers. He selected his disciples 
from among the illiterate fishermen of Galilee, and promised them no reward in this 
world but a part in the bitter cup of his sufferings. He dined with publicans and sin- 
ners, and mingled with the common people without ever condescending to their low 
manners and habits. He was so poor that he had no place on which to rest his head. 
He depended for the supply of his modest wants on voluntary contributions of a few 
pious females, and the purse was in the hands of a thief and a traitor. Nor had he 
learning, art, or eloquence, in the usual sense of the term, nor any other kind of power 
by which great men arrest the attention and secure the admiration of the world. The 
writers of Greece and Eome were ignorant even of his existence till, several years after 
the crucifixion, the effects of his mission in the steady growth of the sect of his followers 
forced from them some contemptuous notice, and then roused them to opposition. And 
yet this Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than 
Alexander, Cscsar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science and learning, he shed 
more light on things human and divine than all scholars and philosophers combined, 
without the eloquence of schools, he spoke words of life as were never spoken before 01 
since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; Avithout writing 
a single line, he has set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, 



THE HISTORIC VERITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 101 



orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and sweet songs of praise, than the 
whole army of great men of ancient and modern times. Born in a manger, and crucified 
as a malefactor, he now controls the destinies of the civilized world, and rules a spiritual 
empire which embraces one-third of the inhabitants of the globe. There never was in 
this world a life so unpretending, modest, and lowly in its outward form and condition, 
and yet producing such extraordinary effects upon all ages, nations, and classes of men. 
The annals of history produce no other example of such complete and astounding suc- 
cess in spite of the absence of those material, literary, and artistic influences which 
are indispensable to success for a mere man." 

We have seen that the outer conditions of the life of Jesus make its astounding 
results utterly inexplicable on the basis of ordinary history, experience, and psychology. 
The same is true with regard to the unlimited scope of his mind and the perfect sym- 
metry of his character. Let us first consider the one great central idea of his mission, 
that of the establishment of a new spiritual kingdom: "Contrary to every religious prej- 
udice of his nation, and even of his time," saj^s Horace Bushnell, "contrary to the com- 
paratively-narrow and exclusive religion of Moses itself, and to all his training under it,* 
he undertakes to organize a kingdom of God, or kingdom of heaven on earth. His 
purpose includes a new moral creation of the race — not of the Jews only, but of the 
whole human race. He declared thus, at an early date in his ministry, that many shall 
come from the east and the west and sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob 
in the kingdom of God; that the field is the world; and that God so loveth the world as 
to give for it his only-begotten Son. He also declared that his Gospel shall be published 
to all nations, and gave his apostles their commission to go into all the world and publish 
his Gospel to every creature. Here, then, we have the grand idea of his mission — it is 
to new-create the human race, and restore it to God in the unity of a spiritual kingdom. 
And, upon this single fact, Beinhard erects a complete argument for his extra-human 
character, going into a formal review of all the great founders of States, and most cele- 
brated law-givers, all the philosophers, all the prophet-founders of religions, and discov- 
ering as a fact that no such thought as this, or nearly proximate to this, had ever before 
been taken up by any living character in history; showing, also, how it had happened 
to every other great character, however liberalized by culture, to be limited in some way 
to the interests of his own people or empire, and set in opposition or antagonism more or 
less decidedly to the rest of the world. But to Jesus alone, the simple Galilean carpen- 
ter, it happens otherwise; that, having never seen a map of the world, or heard the 
name of half the great nations on it, he undertakes, coming out of his shop, a scheme as 
much vaster and more difficult than that of Alexander, as it proposes more, and what is 
more divinely benevolent! This thought of a universal kingdom, cemented in God — 
why, the immense Boman Empire of his day, constructed by so many ages of war and 
conquest, is a bauble in comparison, both as regards the extent and the cost! And yet 
the rustic tradesman of Galilee propounds even this for his errand, and that in a way of 
assurance as simple and quiet as if the immense reach of his plan were, in fact, a matter 
to him of no consideration. Nor is this all: there is included in his plan, what, to any 
mere man, would be yet more remote from the possible confidence of his frailty; it is a 
plan as universal in time as it is in the scope of its objects. It does not expect to be 
realized in a lifetime, or even in many centuries to come. He calls it, understandingly, 
his grain of mustard-seed; which, however, is to grow, he declares, and overshadow the 
whole earth. But the courage of Jesus, counting a thousand years to be only a single 

*And yet it has been asserted that Jesus' conception of his Messianic mission was nothing more than a reflec- 
tion of the popular opinions of his day, more or less modified by his own individualityl Of all the attempts to 
account for the work and character of Christ on natural grounds, denying the Divine element, this is the most 
unscrupulous and absurd. For nothing can be proved more irrefutably than this, that Jesus' conception of his 
Messianic mission was diametrically opposed to the Messianic ideas which prevailed among the Jewish people. 



102 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



day, is equal to the run of his work. He sees a rock of stability where men see only' 
frailty and weakness. Peter himself, the impulsive and rather-unreliable Peter, turns 
into a rock and becomes a good foundation, as he looks upon him. 'On this rock,' he 
says, 'I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' His 
expectation, too, reaches boldly out beyond his own death; that, in fact, is to be the seed 
of his great empire; 'Except a corn of wheat fall into the gi'ound and die, it abideth,' he 
says, 'alone.' And if we will see with what confidence and courage he adheres to his 
plan, when the time of his death approaches — how far he is from giving it up as lost, or as 
an exploded vision of his youthful enthusiasm — we have only to observe his last interview 
with the two sisters of Bethany, in whose hospitality he was so often comforted. When, 
the box of precious ointment is broken upon his head, he justifies her against the mur- 
muring disciples, and says, 'Let her alone. She has done what she could. She is come 
aforehand to anoint my body to the burying. Verily, I say unto you, wheresoever this Gos- 
pel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that this woman has done shall 
be told for a memorial of her.' Such was the sublime confidence he had in a plan that 
was to run through all future ages, and would scarcely begin to show its fruit during his 
own lifetime. Is this great idea, then, which no man ever before conceived — the raising 
of the whole human race to God, a plan sustained with such evenness of courage and a 
confidence of the world's future so far transcending any human example— is this a merely- 
human development? Eegard the benevolence of it, the universality of it, the religious 
grandeur of it, as a work readjusting the relations of God and his government with 
men — the cost, the length of time it will cover, and the far-off date of its completion. For 
a Nazarene carpenter, a poor, uneducated villager, to lay out a project which can not be 
completed in many thousands of years, and transcends all human ability, doing it in all 
the airs of sobriety, entering on the performance without parade, and yielding life to it 
firmly as the inaugural of its triumph, is, we may safely affirm, more than human." 

The unparalleled universality of the mind of Jesus, and the perfect symmetry of his 
character, are comprehensively set forth by Dr. Schaff in the following remarks: "History 
exhibits to us many examples of commanding geniuses, who stand at the head of their 
age and nation, and furnish material for the intellectual activity of whole generations 
and periods, till they are succeeded by other heroes at a new epoch of development. As 
rivers generally spring from high mountains, so knowledge and moral power rises and is 
continually nourished from the hights of humanity. . . . But they never represent 
universal, but only sectional humanity; they are identified with a particular people or 
age, and partake of its errors, superstitions, and failings almost in the same proportion 
in which they exhibit their virtues. Moses, though revered by the followers of three 
religions, was a Jew in views, feelings, habits, and position, as well as by parentage; 
Socrates never rose above the Greek type of character; Luther was a German through- 
out, and can only be properly understood as a German; Calvin, though an exile from 
his native land, remained a Frenchman; and Washington, the purest and noblest type 
of the American character, can be to no nation on earth what he is to the American. 
Their influence may and does extend far beyond their respective national horizon, yet 
they can never furnish a universal model for imitation. . . . What these representa- 
tive men are to particular ages, or nations, or sects, or particular schools of science and 
art, Christ was to the human family at large in its relation to God. He, and he alone, is 
the universal type for universal imitation. Hence he could, without the least impro- 
priety or suspicion of vanity, call upon all men to follow him. He stands above the 
limitations of age, school, sect, nation, and race. Although a Jew according to the flesh, 
there is nothing Jewish about him which is not at the same time of general significance. 
The particular and national in him is always duly subordinated to the general and 
human. Still less was he ever identified with a party or sect. He was equally removed 
from the stiff formalism of the Pharisees, the loose liberalism of the Sadducees, and the 



THE HISTORIC VERITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 103 

inactive mysticism of the Bssenes. He rose above all the prejudices, bigotries, and 
superstitions of his age and people, which exert their power even upon the strongest and 
otherwise most liberal minds. Witness his freedom in the observance of the Sabbath, by 
which he offended the scrupulous literalists, while he fulfilled the true spirit of the law 
in its universal and abiding significance; his reply to the disciples, when they traced the 
misfortune of the blind man to a particular sin of the subject, or his parents; his liberal 
conduct toward the Samaritans as contrasted with the inveterate hatred and prejudice of 
the Jews, including his own disciples, at the time; and his charitable judgment of the 
slaughtered Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices, and the 
eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and slew them. All the words and all the 
actions of Christ, while they were fully adapted to the occasions which called them forth, 
retain their force and applicability undiminished to all ages and nations. . . . He 
was free from all one-sidedness, which constitutes the weakness as well as the strength 
of the most eminent men. He was not a man of one idea, nor of one virtue, towering 
above all the rest. The mental and moral forces were so well tempered and moderated by 
each other that none was unduly prominent, none carried to excess, none alloyed by the 
kindred failing; each was checked and completed by the opposite grace. His character 
never lost its even balance and happy equilibrium, never needed modification or read- 
justment. It was thoroughly sound and uniformly consistent from the beginning to the 
end. We can not properly attribute to him any one temperament. He was neither san- 
guine like Peter, nor choleric like Paul, nor melancholy like John, nor phlegmatic as 
James is sometimes represented to have been ; but he combined the vivacity without the 
levity of the sanguine, the vigor without the violence of the choleric, the seriousness 
without the austerity of the melancholic, the calmness without the apathy of the phleg- 
matic temperaments. He was equally far removed from the excesses of the legalist, the 
pietist, the ascetic, and the enthusiast. With the strictest obedience to the law, he moved 
in the element of freedom; with all the fervor of the enthusiast, he was always calm, 
sober, and self-possessed; notwithstanding his complete and uniform elevation above the 
affairs of this world, he freely mingled with society, male and female, dined with publi- 
cans and sinners, sat at the wedding feast, shed tears at the sepulcher, delighted in God's 
nature, admired the beauties of the lilies, and used the occupations of the husbandman 
for the illustration of the sublimest truths of the kingdom of heaven. His zeal never 
degenerated into rashness, nor his constancy into obstinacy, nor his tenderness into sen- 
timentality. His unworldliness was free from indifference and unsociability, his dignity 
from pride, his affability from undue familiarity, his self-denial from moroseness, his 
temperance from austerity. He combined childlike innocence with manly strength, all- 
absorbing devotion to God with untiring interest in the welfare of man, tender love to 
the sinner with uncompromising severity against sin, commanding dignity with winning 
humility, fearless courage with wise caution, unyielding firmness with sweet gentleness. 
He is justly compared with the lion in strength, and with the lamb in meekness. He 
equally possessed the wisdom of the serpent and the simplicity of the dove. He brought 
both the sword against every form of wickedness, and the peace which the world can not 
give. He was the most effective, and yet the least noisy, the most radical, and yet the 
most conservative, calm, and patient of all reformers. He came to fulfill every letter of 
the law, and yet he made all things new. The same hand which drove the profane traf- 
fickers from the Temple, blessed little children, healed the lepers, and resuscitated the 
sinking disciple; the same ear which heard the approbation from heaven, was open 
to the cries of women in travail ; the same mouth which pronounced the terrible woe on 
the hypocrites, and condemned the impure desire and unkind feeling as well as the open 
crime, blessed the poor in spirit, announced pardon to the adulteress, and prayed for his 
murderers; the same eye which beheld the mysteries of God and penetrated the heart of 
man, shed tears of compassion over ungrateful Jerusalem, and tears of friendship at the 



104 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



grave of Lazarus. These are indeed opposite, yet not contradictory traits of character — 
as little as the different manifestations of God's power and goodness in the tempest and 
the sunshine, in the towering Alps and the lily of the valley, in the boundless ocean and 
dew-drops of the morning. They are separated in imperfect men, indeed, but united in 
Christ, the universal model for all." * 

Though the above sketch comprises all the elements which constitute mental and 
moral perfection,* we can not refrain from adding a few lineaments drawn by Bushnell, 
when he considers him as a teacher, his method and manner, and other characteristics, 
apart from his doctrine which does not come into consideration in our present investi- 
gation : 

"First of all, we notice the perfect originality and independence of his teaching. 
We have a great many men who are original within a certain boundary of educated 
thought. But the originality of Christ is uneducated. That he draws nothing from the 
stores of learning can be seen at a glance. The impression we have in reading his 
instructions justifies to the letter the language of his cotemporaries, when they say, 
'This man hath never learned.' There is nothing in any of his allusions, or forms of 
speech, that indicates learning. Indeed, there is nothing in him that belongs to his age 
or country — no one opinion, or taste, or prejudice. If he is simply a man, he is most 
certainly a new and singular kind of man, never before heard of, one who is quite as 
great a miracle in the world as if he were not a man. 

"Neither does he teach by the human methods. He does not speculate about God, as 
a school-professor, drawing out conclusions by a practice on words, and deeming that the 
way of proof; he does not build up a frame of evidence from below, by some construct- 
ive process, such as the philosophers delight in ; but he simply speaks of God and spir- 
itual things as one who has come out from him to tell us what he knows. And his 
simple telling brings us the reality; proves it to us in its own sublime self-evidence; 
awakens even the consciousness of it in our own bosom, so that formal arguments or 
dialectic proofs offend us by their coldness. Indeed, he makes even the world luminous 
by his words— fills it with an immediate and new sense of God, which nothing has ever 
been able to expel. 

"At the same time, he never reveals the infirmity so commonly shown by human 
teachers, when they veer a little from their point, or turn their doctrine off by shades of 
variation, to catch the assent of multitudes. He never conforms to an expectation, even 
of his friends. When they look to find a great prophet in him, he offers nothing in the 
modes of the prophets. When they ask for places of distinction in his kingdom, he 
rebukes their folly, and tells them he has nothing to give but a share in his reproaches 
and his poverty. When they look to see him take the sword as the Great Messiah of 
their nation, calling the people to his standard, he tells them he is no warrior and no 
king, but only a messenger of love to lost men ; one that has come to minister and die, 
but not to set up or restore the kingdom. Every expectation that rises up to greet him 
is repulsed ; and yet, so great is the power of his manner, that multitudes are held fast, 
and can not yield their confidence. 

"Again, the singular balance of character displayed in the teachings of Jesus, indi- 
cates an exemption from the standing infirmitj' of human nature. Human opinions are 
formed under a law that seems to be universal. First, two opposite extremes are thrown 
up in two opposite leaders or parties; then a third party enters, trying to find what truth 
they both are endeavoring to vindicate, and settle thus a view of the subject that includes 
the truth and clears the one-sided extremes. It results, in this manner, that no man, 

*We are aware that we anticipate in part the subject-matter of the subsequent section on the moral perfec- 
tion of Christ; but it is impossible to consider mental entirely apart from moral perfection. Besides, the moral 
perfection of Christ will bo viewed for itself, as sinlessnese. Here we consider only his moral as well as mental 
greatness. 



THE HISTORIC VERITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 105 

even the broadest in his apprehensions, is ever at the point of equilibrium as regards all 
subjects. Even the ripest of us are continually falling into some extreme and losing our 
balance, afterward to be corrected by some others who discover our error, or that of our 
school* But Christ was of no school or party, and never went to any extreme — -words 
could never turn him to a one-sided view of any thing. This is the remarkable fact that 
distinguishes him from any other teacher of the world. Having nothing to work out in 
a world-process, but every thing clear in the simple intuition of his superhuman intelli- 
gence, he never pushes himself to any human eccentricity. It does not even appear that 
he is trying, as we do, to balance opposites and clear extravagances, but he does it as one 
who can not imagine a one-sided view of any thing. He will not allow his disciples to 
deny him before kings and governors ; he will not let them renounce their allegiance to 
Csesar. He exposes the oppressions of the Pharisees in Moses' seat, but, encouraging no 
factious resistance, says, 'Do as they command you.' His position as a reformer was 
universal — according to his principles almost nothing, whether in Church, or State, or in 
social life, was right — and yet he is thrown into no antagonism against the world. With 
all the world upon his hands, and a reform to be carried in almost every thing, he is yet 
as quiet and cordial, and as little in the attitude of bitterness or impatience, as if all 
hearts were with him, or the work already done; so perfect is the balance of his feeling, 
so intuitively moderated is it by wisdom not human. . . . 'Judge not,' he says, in 
holy charity, 'that ye be not judged;' and, in holy exactness, 'Whosoever shall break, or 
teach to break one of these least commandments, shall be least in the kingdom of God;' 
in the same way, 'He that is not with us is against us;' and, 'he that is not against us is 
for us;' 'Ye tithe mint, anise, and cummin;' and, 'These things ought ye to have done, 
and not to leave the other undone.' So magnificent and sublime, so plainly Divine is the 
balance of Jesus! Nothing throws him off the center on which truth rests; no prejudice, 
no opposition, no attempt to right a mistake, or rectify a delusion, or reform a practice. 
If this be human, I do not know, for one, what it is to be human. 

"Again, it is a remarkable and even superhuman distinction of Jesus, that, while he 
is advancing doctrines so far transcending all deductions of philosophy, and opening 
mysteries that defy all human power of explication, he is yet able to set his teachings iu 
a form of simplicity that accommodates all classes of minds; and this for the reason 
that he 'speaks directly to men's convictions themselves, without and apart from any 
learned and curious elaboration, such as the uncultivated can not follow. No one of 
the great writers of antiquity had even propounded, as yet, a doctrine of virtue which the 
multitude could understand. But Jesus tells them directly, in a manner level to their 
understanding, what they want, what they must do and be, to inherit eternal life, and 
their inmost convictions answer to his words. 

"Call him then, who will, a mere man; what human teacher ever came down thus 
upon the soul of the race as a beam of light from the skies — pure light, shining directly 
into the visual orb of the mind, a light for all that live, a full, transparent day, in which 
truth bathes the spirit as an element? Others talk and speculate about truth, and those 
who can may follow; but Jesus is the truth, and he lives it; and if he is a mere human 
teacher, he is the first who was ever able to find a form for truth at all adequate to the 
world's uses. And yet the truths he teaches outreach all the doctrines of all the philoso- 
phers of the world. He excels them, a hundredfold more, in the scope and grandeur of 
his doctrine, than he does in his simplicity itself. Is this human, or is it Divine? 

"Once more, it is a high distinction of Christ's character, as seen in his teachings, that 
he is never anxious for the success of his doctrine. Fully conscious of the fact that the 

*It is worthy of note, that, while all other teachers have been refuted in something, no errors in science, 
theology, or morals, or no inconsistency with his own system has ever been, even plausibly, charged upon Jesus, 
though his sayings anticipate the sanction or condemnation of all religious thought, civilization, and philosophy. 



106 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



world is against him, scoffed at, despised, hated, alone too in his cause, and without par- 
tisans that have any public influence, no man has ever been able to detect in him the 
least anxiety for the final success of his doctrine. The consciousness of truth, we are not 
about to deny, has an effect of this nature in every truly -great mind. But when has it 
had an effect so complete? "What human teacher, what great philosopher has not shown 
some traces of anxiety for his school that indicated his weakness? But here is a lone 
man, a humble, uneducated man, finding all the world against him, and yet the world 
does not rest on its axle more firmly than he upon his doctrine. Questioned by Pilate 
what he means by truth, it is enough to answer, 'He that is of the truth heareth my 
voice.' If this be not more than human, no other man of the race, we are sure, has ever 
dignified humanity by a like example. 

"Such is Christ as a teacher. When has the world seen a phenomenon like this? A 
lonely, uninstructed youth, coming forth amid the moral darkness of Galilee, even more 
distinct from his age, and from every thing around him, than a Plato would be rising up 
alone in some wild tribe in Oregon, assuming thus a position at the head of the world, 
and maintaining it for eighteen centuries by the pure self-evidence of his life and doc- 
trine! Does he this by the force of mere human talent or genius? If so, it is time that 
we begin to look to genius for miracles; for there is really no greater miracle." 

• "We close this section with some remarks of Dr. TJllmann in regard to the hypothesis, 
that the wonderful character of Christ was not drawn from actual life, but from the mind 
of those who record his life: "Modern criticism holds the opinion, that the picture of 
the personality of Jesus was the work of the fancy of the earliest Christian Church, who 
invented, after his death, this description of the founder of their religion. But this runs 
counter to all historical analogy. The great revolutions of history have not been effected 
by fictitious personages, but by living men ; and those men must have possessed within 
themselves a real power corresponding to, and accounting for, the influence they pos- 
sessed. Then, it is not conceivable that a community — that is, a number of individuals 
differently constituted — should have succeeded in producing so harmonious a character. 
Or, is it imagined that one man was the author of this image? In that case, we are at a 
loss to understand how that individual could produce so rare a work. "We must, more- 
over, have to rank him higher than the object which called forth his inventive power ; 
to him we must accord the meed of wonder and praise which we withhold from Jesus. 
But we should not thus find an explanation of the problem, which has indeed only 
become more difficult and involved. For in this case, as well as in the former, the first 
question which we put is still this, How is it, that an ideal of so perfect a kind ever 
came into the mind of man, whether of many men or of one individual? . . . How 
could a form of a sublime majesty, such as mankind had till then no conception of, and 
would not have at this day if it had not been here presented to us; how could that 
appear upon the bounded horizon of a Jewish mind? Or could the idea of him who was 
the first to embrace, in his boundless love, the whole human race, arise within the narrow 
consciousness of an Israelite? Further, the incredibility of all this will be fully appar- 
ent, if we take into consideration the education and mental training of the first disciples. 
They were plain, simple men; untrained as authors; the large proportion of them were 
any thing but men of fancy and imagination. They were, moreover, men of sincerity 
and simplicity in their religious belief; hence they would not have invented had they 
been able. And even if they would, it is certain that they could never have succeeded 
in achieving, with the means at their disposal — humanly speaking, so insignificant — 
what the masters of thought and of discourse, a Plato and a Xenophon, had, in their 
account of Socrates, failed to accomplish. Let criticism show us that any thing similar 
occurs elsewhere in the page of history ! Till it does so — and it never will be able to do 
so — we shall continue to maintain — what seems so abundantly evident to every healthy 

mind — that the reason why the disciples have been able to place before our eye in such 



THE HISTORIC VERITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 107 

vivid reality so great a majesty of moral character, is, tliat they themselves had seen in 
real life one who manifested those qualities. The inimitable nature of the Gospel picture 
must ever remain one of its leading characteristics. But the fact that it can not be imi- 
tated is a pledge of the truth of its contents." 

§ 29. The Sinlessness of Jesus, the Idea op which could not have been conceived 

by the Evangelists, if they had not seen it Actualized in the Life of 

Jesus — incontestably pboving that He was not a Mebe Man. 

Before we proceed to apply sinlessness to the person of Jesus, it is proper to define 
the term, and to make some remarks on the scope and importance of the investigation 
before us, in doing which we give a condensation of the elaborate argumentation of Ull- 
mann. The idea of sinlessness is, in the first instance, a negative one. It is the absence 
of antagonism to the moral law, and to the Divine will, of which that law is the exjn'es- 
sion; and this not only in relation to separate acts of will and outward actions, but also 
in relation to the tendency of the whole moral nature, and to its most deep-seated dispo- 
sition. Doubtless this conception is in itself of great importance, inasmuch as it marks 
off, more distinctly than any other, the line of demarkation between moral purity and 
any trace of moral pollution. Yet it is not sufficient to regard sinlessness as the absence 
of all opposition to the moral law. For the conception of sinlessness is one which, like 
that of sin, can be apj)lied only to natures such as have been appointed to will and to do 
in the capacity of moral agents; in the case of which, therefore, the omission of such 
willing and doing is itself a deviation from the divine law of life. Sinlessness must, 
therefore, imply positive goodness — goodness of nature, and goodness in action. It is in 
this sense of the word, not as negative merely, but as essentially positive, that we apply 
the epithet "sinless" to Jesus. By this epithet he is characterized as not only free from 
all sin, but as holy. By it is meant that he was filled at every moment of his life with 
the spirit of obedience, and with a love to God which surrendered itself unconditionally 
to his will, and with those powers which flow from an uninterrupted communion with 
God. Such sinlessness can be predicated only of an individual in whose case, on the one 
hand, the impossibility of sinning does not follow at once from a necessity of his nature, 
who, in other words, is susceptible of being tempted,* and whom, on the other hand, we 
may believe endowed with an integrity of moral nature, by the right use of which the 
possibility of not sinning becomes an impossibility of sinning. In a case where both 
these conditions are fulfilled, the development of a life altogether pure and holy is con- 
ceivable; a life it would be which we should have to regard as at once typically perfect — 
raised far above every thing which history tells us of, and, at the same time,, as truly 
human ; and this is what we hold the moral character and life of Jesus to have been. 

Hitherto the doctrine of the sinless character of Christ has been almost invariably 
contemplated in the light of an immediate postulate of faith, as a necessary consequence 

* The question, how far it can be affirmed, from a dogmatical or speculative stand-point, that sinfulness or 
actual transgression in Christ is a priori inconceivable, is out of the scope of our present investigation. It will be 
fully considered in our comments on the temptation of Christ, (Matt, iv.) It is sufficient here to remark, that we 
must be careful to distinguish the possibility of sinning from a leaning or bent toward sin. Sin may be possible 
where it has not existed in the faintest degree; but a penchant toward sin is inconsistent with sinlessness, for it 
involves a germ, a minimum of sin. The possibility of sin must be presupposed in Jesus, ere we can conceive that 
Jesus could be tempted. A liability to be tempted does not in itself imply the existence of any evil ; for even the 
purest virtue, if it dwells in a finite nature, is liable to be tempted. The impossibility of sinning, in the abstract, 
can be ascribed to the infinite God alone ; of him it is true in the absolute necessity of his nature — a necessity 
which is identical with the highest liberty. Had Jesus been endowed with an absolute impossibility of sin, he 
could not have been a true man ; his temptation is, therefore, presented to us in the Scriptures as one of the most 
marked features of his history, and as the indispensable condition of his typical character, while, at the same 
time, the possibility of sin in him never became actual fact. 



108 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



of the incarnation, or as an indispensable condition of the work of Christ as Eedeemer; 
and those who have thus treated it, have not proceeded from this stand-point to a more 
detailed investigation and proof of the fact itself. "We, on the contrary, will leave out 
of account this immediate conviction of the truth of the doctrine — without, at the same 
time, calling it in question, or denying that it may be right and valid in its own place — ■ 
and begin by seeking to establish and vindicate our belief in the sinlessness of Christ. 
In the mode of proof that we shall adopt in so doing, our arguments will be drawn from 
the historical appearance of Christ. We do not say: Because Christ was the Son of God, 
he could not be subject to sin; or, because he was the Eedeemer, he must have been free 
from sin. "What we say is: Because he was free from sin, and showed himself in all 
respects perfectly pure and holy, we are warranted in believing that he was the Son of 
God, the deliverer from all sin, the author of true redemption, and the revealer of 
redeeming truth. Now, while we follow this historical and apologetical course, we do 
not mean to assert that the dogmatical or philosophical course is valueless. "We are per- 
suaded that, if both methods are rightly pursued, they must lead to the same result. 
Doctrinally to maintain the sinlessness of Christ were to believe an empty form, if that 
doctrine had no basis of historical reality; and the historical reality would lie on some- 
thing fragmentary and detached, were it not organically united with the sum total of the 
Christian system. But while the two methods mutually presuppose and require one 
another, still, in their practical treatment, they must be carefully distinguished. 

The apologetical mode of presenting the sinlessness of Jesus has a very peculiar 
import, in that it appeals to the moral consciousness of men. The truly-convincing evi- 
dences for Christianity are those which are at once theoretical and practical; for the 
object is not only by the use of argument to convince the understanding, but at the same 
time to touch the conscience, to move the will, and to give a decided impulse to the 
spirit, and a new direction to the whole life. The entrance into the domain of Chris- 
tianity is not to be gained by a mere process of thought, but can only be attained by 
undergoing a new process of life, a radical change of the moral nature. Now, the sub- 
ject which we have here to consider speaks directly to the conscience. The image of 
Jesus rises up before the soul as a thing that has really been, in all its clear and stainless 
purity. True, it can never be reproduced as a living reality in us, without shivering and 
shattering all our virtuous conceits, without casting us, as sinful men, prostrate in the 
dust before the Holy One. But while it thus humbles us, it exalts us too, and draws us 
with an inwardly-overpowering might into the communion of holy and compassionate 
Divine love, shining forth on us from him as the brightest mirror. If Jesus is holy, free 
from sin, and true to the exclusion of all error, and thus stands upon a platform elevated 
high above the common fate of mortals, all of whom, without exception, are subject to 
error and to sin — then we are both entitled and enjoined to reverence in him — in his 
whole manifestation upon earth, in all that he did and all that he taught — the exponent 
of the will of God concerning man; then we have every warrant to look to him, the Sin- 
less One, as the author of our deliverance from sin, to him, being one with the Father, as 
the restorer of true union with God. It is thus that the apologetical mode of presenting 
the sinlessness of Jesus, while it vindicates belief, is at the same time fitted to call forth 
and increase the same. 

After these preliminary remarks, let us contemplate the portrait of the moral perfection 
of Christ. "We find it most comprehensively drawn by Dr. Schaff, and give it — detached 
from other traits of his character which we have dwelt upon in the preceding section, 
and from considerations to which we shall draw the attention afterward. He says: 

"The first impression which we receive from the life of Jesus, is that of its perfect 
innocency in the midst of a sinful world. He, and he alone, carried the innocency of a 
pure childhood untarnished through his youth and manhood. ... Of the boyhood 
of Jesus we know only one fact, recorded by Luke ; but it is in perfect keeping with the 



THE HISTORIC VERITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 109 

peculiar charm of his childhood, and foreshadows at the same time the glory of his public 
life, as one uninterrupted service of his Heavenly Father. When twelve years old we find 
him in the Temple, in the midst of the Jewish doctors, not teaching and offending them, 
as in the apocryphal Gospek, by any immodesty or forwardness, but hearing and asking 
questions, thus actually learning from them; and yet filling them with astonishment at 
his understanding and answers. There is nothing premature, forced, or unbecoming his 
age, and yet a degree of wisdom and an intensity of interest in religion which rises far 
above a purely-human youth. 'He increased,' we are told, 'in wisdom and stature, and 
in favor with God and man;' he was subject to his parents, and practiced all the virtues 
of an obedient son; and yet he filled them with a sacred awe as they saw him absorbed 'in 
the things of his Father,' and heard him utter words which they were unable to under- 
stand at the time, but which Mary treasured up in her heart as a holy secret. Such an 
idea of a harmless and faultless, heavenly childhood, of a growing, learning, and yet sur- 
prisingly-wise boyhood, as it meets us in living reality at the portal of the Gospel history, 
never entered the imagination of biographer, poet, or philosopher before. On the con- 
trary, as has been justly observed by Horace Bushnell, 'in all the higher ranges of char- 
acter, the excellence portrayed is never the simple unfolding of a harmonious and perfect 
beauty contained in the germ of childhood, but it is a character formed by a process of 
rectification in which many follies are mended and distempers removed, in which confi- 
dence is checked by defeat, passion moderated by reason, smartness sobered by expe- 
rience. Commonly a certain pleasure is taken in showing how the many wayward sallies 
of the boy are, at length, reduced by discipline to the character of wisdom, justice, and 
public heroism so much admired. Besides, if any writer, of almost any age, will under- 
take to describe, not merely a spotless, but a superhuman or celestial childhood, not 
having the reality before him, he must be somewhat more than human himself if he does 
not pile together a mass of clumsy exaggerations, and draw and overdraw, till neither 
heaven nor earth can find any verisimilitude in the picture.' This unnatural exaggera- 
tion, into which the mythical fancy of man, in its endeavor to produce a superhuman 
childhood and boyhood, will inevitably fall, is strikingly exhibited in the apocryphal 
Gospels, which are related to the canonical Gospels as the counterfeit to the genuine coin, 
or as a revolting caricature to the inimitable original, but which, by the very contrast, 
tend, negatively, to corroborate the truth of Evangelical history. While the Evangelists 
expressly reserve the performance of miracles to the age of maturity and public life, and 
observe a significant silence concerning the parents of Jesus, the pseudo-evangelists fill 
the infancy and early years of the Savior with the strangest prodigies. 

"In vain we look through the entire biography of Christ for a single stain, or the 
slightest shadow on his moral character. There never lived a more harmless being on 
earth. He injured nobody, he took advantage of nobody, he never spoke an improper 
word, he never committed a wrong action.* The manner of expelling the profane traf- 
fickers from the Temple is the only instance which modern criticism has dared to quote 
against his freedom from the faults of humanity. But the very effect which it produced 
shows that, far from being the outburst of passion, the expulsion was a judicial act of a 
religious reformer, vindicating in just and holy zeal the honor of the Lord of the Temple, 
and that with a dignity and majesty which at once silenced the offenders, though superior 
in number and physical strength, and made them submit to their well-deserved punishment 
without a murmur, and in awe of the presence of a superhuman power. The cursing 
of the unfruitful fig-tree can still less be urged, as it evidently was a significant symbolical 

*"No vice that has a name can be thought of in connection with Jesus Christ. Ingenious malignity looks in 
vain for the faintest trace of self-seeking in his motives ; sensuality shrinks abashed from his celestial purity; 
falsehood can leave no stain on him who is incarnate truth ; injustice is forgotten beside his errorless equity; the 
very possibility of avarice is swallowed up in his benignity and love ; the very idea of ambition is lost in his 
Divine wisdom and Divine self-abnegation." (Bayne.) 



HO GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



act, foreshadowing the fearful doom of the impenitent Jews in the destruction of Jeru- 
salem* . . . But this freedom from the common sin and guilt is, after all, only the 
negative side of his character, which rises in magnitude as we contemplate the positive 
side, namely, his moral and religious perfection. It is universally admitted, even by 
Deists and rationalists, that Christ taught the purest and sublimest system of ethics, 
which throws all the moral precepts and maxims of the wisest men of antiquity far into 
the shade. The Sermon on the Mount alone is worth infinitely more than all that Con- 
fucius, Socrates, and Seneca ever said or wrote on duty and virtue. But the difference is 
still greater if we come to the more difficult task of practice. While the wisest and best 
of men never live up even to their own imperfect standard of excellency, Christ fully 
carried out his perfect doctrine in his life and conduct. He is the living incarnation of 
the ideal standard of virtue and holiness, and universally acknowledged to be the highest 
model for all that is pure, and good, and noble in the sight of God and man. We find 
him moving in all the ordinary and essential relations of life, as a son, a friend, a citizen, 
a teacher, at home and in public; we find him among all classes of society, with sinners 
and saints, with the poor and the wealthy, with the sick and the healthy, with little chil- 
dren, grown men and women, with plain fishermen and learned scribes, with despised 
publicans and honored members of the Sanhedrim, with friends and foes, with admiring 
disciples and bitter persecutors, now with an individual, as Mcodemus or the woman of 
Samaria, now in the familiar circle of the twelve, now in the crowds of the people; we 
find him in all situations, in the synagogue and the Temple, at home and on journeys, in 
villages and the city of Jerusalem, in the desert and on the mountain, at the wedding 
feast and the grave, in Gethsemane, in the judgment-hall and on Calvary. In all these 
various relations, conditions, and situations, as they are now crowded- within the few 
years of his public ministry, he sustains the same consistent character throughout, with- 
out ever exposing himself to censure. He fulfills every duty to God, to man, and to 
himself, without a single violation of duty, and exhibits an entire conformity to the law, 
in the spirit as well as the letter. His life is one unbroken service of God in active and 
passive obedience to his holy will, one grand act of absolute love to God and love to man, 
of personal self-consecration to the glory of the Heavenly Father and the salvation of a 
fallen race. In the language of the people who were 'beyond measure astonished at his 
works,' we must say, the more we study his life: 'He did all things well.' In a solemn 
appeal to his Heavenly Father, in the parting hour, he could proclaim to the world that 
he had glorified him in the earth and finished the work he gave him to do. 

"The first feature in this singular perfection of Christ's character which strikes our 
attention, is the perfect harmony of virtue and piety, of morality and religion, or of love 
to God and love to man. The ground-work of his character was the most intimate and 
uninterrupted union and communion with his Heavenly Father, from whom he derived, to 
whom he referred every thing. Already, in his twelfth year, he found his life-element and 
delight in the things of his Father. It was his daily food to do the will of Him that sent 
him, and to finish his work. To him he looked in prayer before every important act, and 
taught his disciples that model prayer, which, for simplicity, brevity, comprehensiveness, 
and suitableness can never be surpassed. He often retired to a mountain or solitary 
place for prayer, and spent days and nights in the blessed privilege. But so constant 

*Theso and a few other instances in the life of Jesus — namely, the charge of disobedience toward his parents 
for remaining behind in the Temple, of interference with the rights of property in permitting the demons to rush 
among the herd of swine, his selection of Judas to the apostleship, the appearance of untruth in John vii, 8-10 — 
though frivolous and scarcely worthy of notice in connection with a nature so elevated as that of Jesus, will be 
fully considered in our comments upon the respective passages. They certainly leave not the minutest stain on the 
purity of Jesus. The argument against the sinlessness of Jesus, drawn from a pretended impossibility of sinless- 
ness in a finite nature, is a mere petitio principii, and can not fall within the scope of this investigation, which 
proposes to deal only with facts. 



THE HISTORIC VERITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. Ill 

and uniform was his habit of communion with the great Jehovah, that he kept it up 
amid the multitude, and converted the crowded city into a religious retreat. But the 
piety of Christ was no inactive contemplation, or retiring mysticism and selfish enjoy- 
ment, but thoroughly practical, ever active in works of charity, and tending to regen- 
erate and transform the world into the kingdom of God. 'He went about doing good.' 
His life is an unbroken series of good words and virtues in active exercise, all proceeding 
from the same union with God, animated by the same love, and tending to the same end, 
the glory of God and the happiness of man. 

"Finally, as all the active virtues meet in him, so he unites the passive. No char- 
acter can become complete without trial and suffering. The ancient Greeks and Romans 
admired a good man struggling with misfortune as a sight worthy of the gods. Plato 
describes the righteous man as one who, without doing any injustice, yet has the appear- 
ance of the greatest injustice, and proves his own justice by perseverance against all 
calumny unto death ; yea, he predicts that, if such a righteous man should ever appear, 
he would be 'scourged, tortured, bound, deprived of his sight, and after having suffered 
all possible injury, nailed on a post.' (Politicus, p. 74, ss. ed., Ast., p. 361, E. ed., Bip.) 
No wonder that the ancient Fathers saw in this remarkable passage an unconscious 
prophecy of Christ. But how far is this ideal of the great philosopher from the actual 
reality, as it appeared three hundred years afterward ! The highest form of passive vir- 
tue attained by ancient heathenism or modern secular heroism is that stoicism which 
meets and overcomes the trials and misfortunes of life in the spirit of haughty contempt 
and unfeeling indifference, which destroys the sensibilities, and is but another exhibition 
of selfishness and pride. Christ has set up a far higher standard by his teaching and 
example, never known before. . . . His passive virtue is not confined to the closing 
scenes of his ministry. As human life is beset at every step by trials, vexations, and 
hinderances, which should serve the educational purpose of developing its resources and 
proving its strength, so was Christ's. During the whole state of his humiliation he was 
'a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief,' and had to endure 'the contradiction of 
sinners.' He was poor, and suffered hunger and fatigue. He was tempted by the devil. 
His path was obstructed with apparently-unsurmountable difficulties from the outset. 
His words and miracles called forth the bitter hatred of the world, which resulted at last 
in the bloody counsel of death. The Pharisees and Sadducees forgot their jealousies and 
quarrels in opposing him. They rejected and perverted his testimony; they laid snares 
to him by insidious questions ; they called him a glutton and wine-bibber for eating and 
drinking like other men, a friend of publicans and sinners for his condescending love 
and mercy, a Sabbath-breaker for doing good on the Sabbath day; they charged him 
with madness and blasphemy for asserting his unity with the Father, and derived his 
miracles from Beelzebub, the prince of devils. The common people, though astonished 
at his wisdom and mighty works, pointed sneeringly at his origin; his own country 
and native town refused him the honor of a prophet. Even his brothers, we are told, 
did not believe in him, and, in their impatient zeal for a temporal kingdom, tl»ey found 
fault with his unostentatious proceeding. His apostles and disciples, with all their pro- 
found reverence for his character, and their faith in his Divine origin and mission as the 
Messiah of God, yet by their ignorance, their carnal, Jewish notions, and their almost 
habitual misunderstanding of his spiritual discourses, must have constituted a severe 
trial of patience to a teacher of far less supei'iority to his pupils. 

"But how shall we describe his passion, more properly so called, with which no other 
suffering can be compared for a moment! Never did any man suffer more innocently, 
more unjustly, more intensely than Jesus of Nazareth. Within the narrow limits of a 
few hours we have here a tragedy of universal significance, exhibiting every form of 
human weakness and infernal wickedness, of ingratitude, desertion, injury, and insult, 
of bodily and mental pain and anguish, culminating in the most ignominious death then 



112 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



known among the Jews and Gentiles. The Government and the people combined against 
him who came to save them. His own disciples forsook him; Peter denied him; Judas, 
under the inspiration of the devil, betrayed him. The rulers of the nation condemned 
him, the furious mob cried, 'Crucify him,' and rude soldiers mocked him. He was seized 
in the night, hurried from tribunal to tribunal, arrayed in a crown of thorns, insulted, 
smitten, scourged, spit upon and hung like a criminal and a slave between two robbers 
and murderers ! 

"How did Christ bear all these little and great trials of life, and the death on the 
cross? Let us remember first, that, unlike the icy Stoics in their unnatural and repulsive 
pseudo-virtue, he showed the keenest sensibility in the agony of the garden, and the 
deepest sympathy Avitk human grief in shedding tears at the grave of a friend, and pro- 
viding a refuge for his mother in the last dying hour. But with this truly -human ten- 
derness and delicacy of feeling he ever combined an unutterable dignity and majesty, a 
sublime self-control and imperturbable calmness of mind. There is a grandeur in his 
deepest sufferings, which forbids a feeling of pity and compassion on our side as incom- 
patible with the admiration and reverence for his character. We feel the force of his 
words to the women of Jerusalem, when they bewailed him on the way to Calvary: 
'Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and your children.' We never hear him 
break out in angry passion and violence, although he was at war with the whole ungodly 
world. He never murmured, never uttered discontent, displeasure, or resentment. He 
was never disheartened, discouraged, ruffled, or fretted, but full of unbounded confidence 
that all was well ordered in the pi-ovidenee of his Heavenly Father. He moved serenely, 
like the sun above the clouds as they sailed under him. He was ever surrounded by the 
element of peace, and said in his parting hour: 'Peace I leave with you; my peace I 
give unto you; not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, 
neither let it be afraid.' He was never what we call unhappy, but full of inward joy, 
which he bequeathed to his disciples in that sublimest of all prayers, ' that they might 
have his joy fulfilled in themselves.' With all his severe rebukes to the Pharisees, he 
never indulged in personalities. He ever returned good for evil. He forgave Peter for 
his denial; and would have forgiven Judas, if, in the exercise of sincere repentance, he 
had sought his pardon. Even while hanging on the cross, he had only the language of 
pity for the wretches who were driving the nails into his hands and feet, and prayed in 
their behalf, 'Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.' He did not seek or 
hasten his martyrdom in morbid enthusiasm or ambitious humility, but quietly and 
patiently waited for the hour appointed by the will of his Heavenly Father. But when 
it came, with what self-possession and calmness, with what strength and meekness, with 
what majesty and gentleness did he pass through its dark and trying scenes !* Here 
every word and act are unutterably significant, from the agony in Gethsemane, when 
overwhelmed with the sympathetic sense of the entire guilt of mankind, and in full view 

*0n tW6 point Dr. Bushnell makes the following profound remarks: "It will be observed that his agony, the 
scene in which his suffering is bitterest and most evident, is, on human principles, wholly misplaced. It comes 
before the time, when as yet there is no arrest, and no human prospect that there will be any. He is at large to go 
where he pleases, and in perfect outward safety. His disciples have just been gathered round him in a scene of 
more than family tenderness and affection. Indeed, it is but a few days since that he was coming into the city, at 
tho head of a vast procession, followed by loud acclamations, and attended by such honors as may fitly celebrate 
the inaugural of a king. Yet here, with no bad sign apparent, wo see him plunged into a scene of deepest dis- 
tress, and racked in his feeling with a more than mortal agony. Coming out of this, assured and comforted, he i' 
shortly arrested, brought to trial, and crucified; where, if there be any thing questionable in his manner, it is in 
the fact that ho is even moro composed than some would have him to be, not even stooping to defend himself or 
vindicate his innocence. . . . By the misplacing of his agony thus, and the strange silence ho observes when 
the real hour of agony is come, wo are put entirely at fault on natural principles. But it was not for him to wait. 
. . . He that was before Abraham, must also bo before his occasions. In a time of safety, in a cool hour of 
retirement, unaccountably to his friends, he falls into a dreadful contest and struggle of mind. . . . Why now 
this so great intensity of sorrow? Why this agony? Was there not something unmanly in it, something unworthy 



THE HISTORIC VERITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 113 

of the terrible scenes before him — the only guiltless being in the world — he prayed that 
the cup might pass from him, but immediately added, 'Not my, but thy will be done,' to 
the triumphant exclamation on the cross, 'It is finished!' Even his dignified silence 
before the tribunal of his enemies and the furious mob, when, 'as a lamb dumb before 
his shearers, he opened not his mouth,' is more eloquent than any apology, and made 
Pilate tremble. Who will venture to bring a parallel from the annals of ancient or mod- 
ern sages, when even a Rousseau confessed, 'If Socrates suffered and died like a philoso- 
pher, Jesus Christ suffered and died like a God !' The passion and crucifixion of Jesus, 
like his whole character, stands without a parallel, solitary and alone in its glory." 

In the portraiture of the character and life of Jesus which we have been contem- 
plating, we find all the different lineaments which lie scattered up and down the pages 
of the Gospel narrative in the most artless simplicity, without any trace of forethought 
and design, gathered together into one whole. It is evident that the picture of Jesus 
which the Gospels present to us, and which the apostles every -where describe, is such 
that, even if it had not been expressly stated in Scripture that Jesus was without sin, we 
could never have conceived of sin, of separation from God, of moral obliquity, as forming 
a feature in that picture, without being sensible that we should thus materially disfigure 
and deface it, nay, destroy it altogether. Nevertheless, it has been called in question on 
the ground that, in order to pronounce concerning any one that he is absolutely free 
from sin, a perfect knowledge of his heart is above all things requisite; and the apostles 
could not see into the heart of Jesus even in the time of their intercourse with him, 
while of the earlier period of his life they had no personal knowledge. In meeting this 
question, Ullmann proves the verity of the picture which the New Testament presents 
of the sinlessness of Jesus, by the following unanswerable arguments, which we will give 
in his own language, though not in the order in which he discusses the subject: 

1. It is unquestionably true that the disciples of Jesus could not look immediately 
into his heart like the omniscient Searcher of Hearts; but what is a man's life but the 
index and revelation of his spirit; and is it possible to account for a perfectly-moral life 
otherwise than on the supposition of a perfectly-moral soul which it represents? Can we 
explain purity of action otherwise than as flowing from purity of heart? What circum- 
stance is there in the life of Jesus to favor the idea that he ever acted in a manner 
merely legal and external, while in heart he was not truly good, or that his inmost dis- 
position was in conflict with his actions? The principle on which the objection is based 
would, if applied generally, abolish all faith in human virtue and spiritual greatness. 

2. If Jesus had not unfolded before the eyes of those with whom he was surrounded a 
character of perfect purity and sinless holiness, his apostles could not have made a repre- 
sentation of such a character; for the idea of sinlessness in a human nature had never 
been thought of previous to the appearing of Christ; or, where the thought occurs, we find 
inseparably connected with it the conviction that it could not be realized in actual life, 

of a really-great soul? Take him to be only a man, and there probably was. But this one thing is clear, that no 
one of mankind ever had the sensibility to suffer so intensely; even showing the body, for the mere struggle and 
pain of the mind, exuding and dripping with blood. Evidently there is something mysterious here. What, we 
begin to ask, should be the power of a superhuman sensibility ? And how far should the human vehicle shake 
under such power? How, too, should an innocent and pure spirit be exercised, when about to suffer in his own 
person the greatest wrong ever committed? Besides, there is a vicarious spirit in love; all love inserts itself vica- 
riously into the sufferings, and woes, and, in a certain sense, the sins of others, taking them on itself as a burden. 
How, then, if perchance Jesus should be Divine, an embodiment of God's love in the world — how should he feel, 
and by what signs of feeling manifest his sensibility, when a fallen race are just about to do the damning sin that 
crowns their guilty history ; to crucify the only perfect being that ever came into the world ; to crucify even him, 
the messenger and representative to them of the love of God, the deliverer who has taken their case and cause 
upon him? Whosoever duly ponders these questions, will more and more distinctly see that what he looks upon to 
be the pathology of a superhuman anguish. It stands, he will perceive, in no mortal key. It will be to him the 
anguish, not of any pusillanimous feeling, but of holy character itself; nay, of a mysteriously-transcendent, or, 
somehow, Divine character." 



114 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



that a perfectly-sinless human being never did or could exist on earth. Plato, it is true, 
draws a sketch of a righteous man, in which he represents perfect virtue as necessarily 
conjoined with suffering; but the idea of the virtue he describes is entirely restricted to 
uprightness; no reference is made to that inward religiousness by which virtue rises into 
holiness, and, what is a still more important consideration, the sketch of Plato is only a 
conception of his mind, without any intimation that it was ever realized in actual life. 
Perhaps there is no man of antiquity with whom men would have associated the idea 
of moral perfection more readily than Socrates; and yet, although we possess such glori- 
ous descriptions of that great man, drawn by his revering disciples, neither they nor 
any one else, least of all Socrates himself, have ventured to maintain that he was entirely 
free from moral blemishes, a perfect man. The prevalent conviction in the heathen 
world, that moral perfection is a thing which it is impossible for man to attain, is clearly 
expressed by Epictetus, who, after setting forth the idea of moral stainlessness with more 
clearness than any preceding philosopher, asks the question, whether it be possible that 
it should ever be realized, and answers: "No, it is impossible; all that is possible is con- 
stantly to strive after a state of not sinning." The same sentiment we find in Judaism; 
its ruling principle was a consciousness of sin produced by a law given by a God of holi- 
ness; for although the Jew had, along with this consciousness of sin, also the belief in 
grace— still he felt himself under the curse of sin, which the law was incapable of remov- 
ing. Neither the founder of the Old Testament dispensation laid any claim to the posses- 
sion of spotless righteousness, nor that greatest prophet of the ante-Christian age, who had, 
indeed, an anticipation that the idea of moral purity would be realized, but not till it should 
be seen in him whom he announced. But, behold! here stand the plain, simple-minded 
apostles, themselves reckoned neither among the poets nor the philosophers, in whom we 
find only the idea of sinless holiness most clearly defined, and whose faith in its actual 
realization in the person of Jesus has become such a certainty that they could sacrifice 
for its sake all that men usually hold dear; further, we find that they have given a 
description of the pure and holy life of Jesus, in which the subsequent moral develop- 
ment of nineteen centuries has discovered no fault or blemish, in which men of the pres- 
ent day still recognize a picture of the most perfect character in the domain of religion 
and morality that can any where be found. From all this we certainly can not draw 
any other conclusion than this : If an idea arose in all its clearness in the minds of the 
apostles, which the great thinkers and poets of antiquity were entirely ignorant of, or 
saw but dimly, this can be accounted for only by the manifestation of a real life ; and if 
those who till then had regarded faultlessness as a thing unattainable by man, had now 
the strongest belief in the reality of a sinless life, the cause for the change could only lie 
in the overpowering impression produced by that life itself, seen unfolding itself before 
their eyes. 

3. The testimony of the apostles receives its full confirmation and its proper validity 
from the testimony of Jesus himself. The two must be taken together, for only together 
do they form a satisfactory proof. He, whom others regarded as a spotless and holy 
being, must be fully conscious in himself of perfect freedom from sin; and again, this 
consciousness of his must be corroborated by the impression which he produces upon 
others; thus united, alone, can either testimony receive its full import. In considering 
the testimony of Jesus concerning himself, let us first contemplate its negative aspect. 
He who had so keen an eye for the sins of others must, if we will not suppose him to 
have been self-blinded, have seen as clearly sin in himself, if it was there. But we find 
no where in his history, as we do in the case of the best of men, even the most occasional 
expression of consciousness of sin; there is no humbling of himself before God on 
account of sin, there is no prayer for the forgiveness of sin. Does not this inevitably 
lead to the conclusion, that the source from M r hence those feelings, which we find pre- 
cisely in the men of highest moral character, proceed, had in him no existence whatever? 



THE HISTORIC VERITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 115 

It follows, likewise, from what he said on the occasion of his baptism, that he felt con- 
scious that he needed for himself no repentance or regeneration. But more than this. 
So far was Jesus from standing in need of forgiveness for himself, that the position he 
held with reference to sinful men was that of a pardoner of sin. He came not onl}- to 
preach forgiveness, he came to bestow it; and could this have been done by one who felt 
guilt and sin in himself? To forgive sin belongs to God only; hence, Jesus could claim 
that right only on the ground of a deep consciousness of oneness with God, a conscious- 
ness based upon a feeling of perfect freedom from sin. 

But the positive testimonies are much stronger. Here we have, first of all, to notice 
that most conclusive saying of Jesus, which we find in John's Gospel: "AVhich of you 
convinceth me of sin?"* When we read this question, the feeling forces itself upon us, 
that its author must have been a personality of a moral character most peculiar; a feel- 
ing greatly strengthened by the recollection that he who spoke these words was one who 
in his whole life presents to us a picture at once of purest truthfulness and most divine 
humility. Every man, too, must at once be fully convinced, that to apply these words to 
himself would only prove him a vain fool or a miserable hypocrite. Last of all could 
this happen in a community from the midst of which Ave hear that same apostle, avIio has 
preserved us the saying of Jesus, exclaim: "If we say that we have no sin we deceive 
ourselves, and the truth is not in us." It is certainly a fact of the highest significance, 
that, in opposition to this attestation of universal sinfulness, which every one without 
exception must indorse, there is One who steps forth from the ranks of humanity and 
exclaims: "Who convinceth me of sin?" That Jesus by these words did not intend to 
say of himself simply, what any honest man, who led a life in conformity with the law, 
might say — "Nobody could point to any sin he had committed " — is self-evident. That he, 
on the contrary, meant positively to affirm the purity of his moral consciousness, that his 
conscience was free from guilt, his inner as well as outer life unstained by sin, is irrefuta- 
bly proved from those other sayings which John records of Christ, and whose meaning it 
is impossible to explain away, when he declares himself to be the way, the truth, and the 
life; when he says that it is his meat to do the will of Him that sent him; when he testi- 
fies that he does at all times the things which please the Father, that he never seeks his 
own will, but always the will of the Father. These are expressions which present to us 
the picture of a life which not only had in it no place for sin, but, more than this, which 
can only be thought of as an actually-perfect life. There are, especially, two significant 
passages which come under consideration here. The first is: "I and my Father are one." 
(John x, 30.) It matters not, for our purpose, whether the unity spoken of is to be 
understood as a unity of nature, or a moral unity, a unity of will; for where perfect 
unity with the Divine will exists, there must also, of necessity, be not only perfect freedom 

*'This passage has by some commentators been translated: "Which of you convinceth me of error?" We shall 
show in our comment on John viii, 46, that this translation is not correct. But supposing it were correct, even in 
that case these words of Jesus would be of great importance for our purpose, for they would at least contain an 
indirect testimony to the religious and moral purity of Jesus. For if he claims exemption from error in that prov- 
ince which alone comes under consideration in this passage — namely, the domain of morality and religion — this 
must imply that he lays claim to purity of inward nature and of outward conduct. For freedom from sin presup- 
poses freedom from error, and vice versa; the two act'and react upon each other. The human mind, whatever 
divisions psychology may make of its powers, is not in reality separated into different departments. It is abso- 
lutely one and undivided, manifesting itself, however, in various ways, and exerting itself in different directions. 
The threads of our whole intellectual life are so subtilely and finely interwoven, that to touch one is to move the 
- whole ; that every impression affects in some way the whole spirit, and every action is the result of the complicated 
cooperation of the most different energies of the mind. The man as thinking can not be sundered from the man as 
feeling; nor the man as willing from the man as knowing. In consequence of this undivided unity of the soul, it is 
inconceivable that a person should be perfect in regard to volitions and acts, and yet be defective and imperfect in 
moral and religious knowledge. When our knowledge has the purity of truth, it acts with a purifying power on 
the life; and purity of life tends to enlighten, and to preserve the enlightenment of the intellect. From this it 
follows, that the necessary presupposition and result of the sinlessness of Jesus was the entire absence of error in 
respect of things religious and moral. 



116 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 

from sin, but perfect goodness. Similar is the case with regard to the other passage: 
"He that has seen me has seen the Father." (John xiv, 9.) Certainly we are not to 
restrict these words so as to mean merely that there was in Jesus something Divine along 
with what was imperfect and sinful, as there is in every man. They must be taken in 
the full sense, that Jesus was morally and mentally an image of the invisible God, an 
expression of the Divine nature. But it is only a character of stainless purity and 
unsullied holiness that can be a spiritual reflection of God; where sin exists, the Holy 
One can not be seen ; where the Holy One is seen, there neither sin nor any imperfection 
can exist. 

There can, therefore, be no doubt that Jesus bore within him the consciousness of 
being sinless and holy; and that to this consciousness he gave repeated expression. If 
we will not acknowledge the validity of a self-testimony of so peculiar a character, there 
remains nothing but to declare Jesus to have been either a fanatic or a hypocrite. If we 
declare him a fanatic, we must suppose that he drew no clear line of demarkation 
between good and evil ; that he did not examine every fold of his heart, or know all the 
motions of his will; nay, we must believe that he was a victim to the vainest self-decep- 
tion when he uttered those memorable words. And is this conceivable in the case of one 
who on every other occasion could distinguish with such incomparable precision between 
good and evil, whose keen vision pierced to the remotest depths of the nature of men, 
and whose feelings on all moral subjects were so singularly refined? Is it possible that he 
who knew others so well should have been ignorant of himself? He would thus form a 
strange exception even to human knowledge. For no other man, even the most darkened, 
would ever entertain a doubt that he is a sinner; was Jesus then a sinner, and alone 
ignorant of the fact? Or, if such conclusions are too absurd to be entertained, we must 
be prepared to accept the other more fearful alternative. He was conscious of trans- 
gressing against the Divine law, we must suppose, in thought, word, and deed, and yet 
he expressly denied it. But who is there that would dare to undertake the defense of 
such a position, to maintain that he, who in all the circumstances of his life acted from 
the purest conscientiousness, and who at last died for his testimony upon the cross, was, 
after all, nothing more than an abject hypocrite? How could it be that he, of whom 
even the least susceptible must confess that there breathed around him an atmosphere of 
purity and faith, should have fallen into an antagonism so deep and so deadly? Into 
such absurd and revolting self-contradictions we must land, if we refuse to acknowledge 
the truth of the Divine self-testimony of Jesus concerning his sinlessness. 

4. There is still another argument that establishes the certainty of the perfect holiness 
of Jesus beyond the possibility of a reasonable doubt. The moral effects produced upon 
mankind by Christianity are such that the sinlessness of Jesus is their necessary condi- 
tion or originating cause. In other words, it can be shown that there have been, since 
the appearance of Christ on earth, actual manifestations, which can be explained ration- 
ally only on one assumption ; namely, that the Author of Christianity was a being of sin- 
less holiness; and that, if we refuse to make this assumption, these manifestations must 
remain entirely inexplicable. 

An unbiased investigation will place beyond a doubt the following facts: that Chris- 
tianity produced in individual believers — that is, in those who were deservedly so called — 
a rich supply of virtues; and that these were, partly, virtues of which men had previ- 
ously no conception whatever, or, at all events, no idea, so high and pure as Christianity 
imparts. Such virtues are humility, meekness, and the self-denial of compassionate love. 
Nor has Christianity exercised a less salutary moral influence upon the common relations 
of human life. In marriage and the family, in the condition of civil and political life, in 
the relation of ranks, castes, and nations to one another, and, in a word, in the whole 
condition of the race, it has laid the foundation of a state of society essentially different 
from what it was before. All these moral manifestations disclose to us the grand truth. 



THE HISTORIC VERITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. H7 



that Christianity has produced something new in the moral world, that the individual 
character which is molded by its influence, and also the humanity which it forms, is a 
new moral creation. This the apostle Paul expresses in a most forcible manner, when he 
says: "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, 
behold, all things are become new." Let us now inquire what must be the originating 
cause of that new creation which we find in the moral life of the Christian world. In 
seeking an answer to this question, we will naturally be inclined to point first to the 
moral ideas peculiar to Christianity — that is, to Christian ethics. Christianity has, 
undoubtedly, an ethical system of incomparable purity, depth, and completeness; it far 
transcends everything that the heathen world has to point to; its principle and spirit far 
excel the loftiest ideas of the Old Testament economy, and there can be no doubt that 
this of itself is a fact of great importance for our purpose. For these ideas of Christian 
ethics are the expression and result of the moral spirit which existed in the Founder of 
Christianity, and thus they afford a testimony to the purity and dignity of his moral 
teaching. But if we are thus compelled to argue from the doctrine to its Author, this is 
still more the case when we look beyond the doctrine to the original source of those 
influences which have jiroduced so mighty a revolution in the moral world. And this 
primary source is not the doctrine of Jesus, but his person. This is necessarily the case ; 
for it is not any doctrine which calls into being a new life; it is only life which can gen- 
erate life. For this we have the most decisive testimony of Christian experience. The 
same apostle who uttered the sublime saying concerning the new creation, says, also, 
when he wishes to describe the primary source and fountain of his life: "I live; but not 
I, but Christ liveth in me." He affirms that any one is a new creature, not because he 
walks according to the doctrine of Christ, but because he is "in" Christ — that is, person- 
ally united to him; and in this the apostle expresses only what is the experience of every 
true Christian in every age. 

The question now arises : In what way must such a personality have been constituted 
to make it capable of imparting a regenerating power to Paul, and to all those whose 
experience has been like his? And to this question we must answer: It can not have 
been a personality in itself sinful, for then it would have differed from other men only in 
degree. It would still have partaken of the old nature. It would not have realized in 
itself an entirely new creation; and thus it could not have prepared the way for a new 
moral birth. On the contrary, it must have been a personality raised above all connec- 
tion with the old nature; one in which the power of sin was entirely broken; which was 
itself in the highest sense a new creation, and was thus in a condition to produce the deep 
renovating effects Avhich a perfect ideal alone could produce.* Thus, on the supposition 
that the Founder of Christianity was not without sin, it is impossible to understand how 
a morality of so pure and perfect a stamp as that which characterizes our religion could 
derive its origin from such a being, or how it could express its peculiar character in such 
words as these: "Old things are passed away, all things are become new." If, on the 
other hand, we suppose the Author of Christianity to have been altogether without sin, 
then it is easy to perceive how, within its sphere, a new creation could come to perfection 
in the moral world by his being formed within the individual believer. 

Again, if the Christian feels in his inmost soul a consciousness that morally he is a 
new man, that old things are passed away and all things are become new, then his position 

*In reply to the objection, that the sinlessness of Jesus should have produced also in those who come within 
his renovating influence a perfect freedom from transgression, Ullmann observes : " We find that, in all true Chris- 
tians, the principle of sin is in fact broken, and that they feel assured of its complete and final overthrow. If, in 
spite of this conquest of the principle of sin, it is still found operating in their lives, this circumstance only leads 
us to conclude that, in order to be ever more and more and at length perfectly freed from sin, all that is required is 
a complete surrender to the renovating influence of Christ; a conviction which can rest upon nothing else than a 
certainty of the fullness and boundless efficacy of that holy, sinless life which dwells in the person of Jesus." 



118 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 

with reference to God must have been changed. The dominion of sin can not be broken, and 
the power of a new life can not be attained, unless its guilt has been first abolished, and 
the foundation laid of a right standing in relation to the holy God. Now, the words 
which express all that belongs to this circle of ideas are these two: Reconciliation and 
Redemption. These two things constitute the fundamental consciousness of the Christian 
world; for the Christian world is what it is essentially because it is conscious of being 
reconciled and redeemed. Now, if we find this consciousness in the Christian religion 
alone, if Christianity is the only religion which can effect a true reconciliation between 
man and God by an actual redemption from sin, then it is not difficult to discover that 
the author of such a religion must himself be of a perfectly-sinless and holy character. 
The true relation of man to God can find its realization only in one in whom sin, which is 
the ground of separation between man and God, has no place. The real manifestation of 
Divine grace can exist only in one in whom the one spring of action is the fullness of 
love which he derives from perfect fellowship with God, and in whom this forms the 
principle which regulates his whole life. Were there not at the head of the Christian 
religion such a being, it were inconceivable how it could be the religion of reconciliation 
and redemption, or how the deep-rooted consciousness of being reconciled and redeemed 
should have come to form the fundamental belief of the Christian world. "With such a 
being at the head of Christianity, this is at once explained. Now, if the consciousness 
of being reconciled and redeemed, possessed by the Christian world, has any reality, then 
that from which it emanated must also have had a real existence. And that that con- 
sciousness had a real foundation rests equally upon an actual fact — on a fact which every 
Christian practically experiences. The doctrine of the sinless holiness of Jesus is, there- 
fore, as secure as is the truth of the efficacy of his work of reconciliation and redemption. 

One point more remains to be noticed. Not only have morality and religion been 
both presented under a new aspect by Christianity, but it has effected an interpenetration 
of the moral and religious elements such as formerly did not exist. This blending of the 
moral and religious, which we call holiness, can only be accounted for, that it was fully 
realized in the person of Christ. It is Christianity alone which combines religion and 
morality into one, though giving each its full due; for it knows nothing of a piety which 
does not sanctify, which is not of an entirely ethical character, seeking to subdue and 
transfuse the whole life ; or of a morality which does not rest upon a living faith, which 
is not thoroughly religious. This union gives, as has been remarked above, the idea of 
holiness. But it is something more than the idea that Christianity gives; it sets forth 
holiness not as something unattainable, far beyond the grasp of humanity, but as already 
really implanted in humanity — as an idea which, from the time of its first perfect mani- 
festation in the person of its Founder, is destined to be realized ever more and more 
within the Christian Church. It is self-evident that the idea of holiness and the belief 
of its attainability by man could not proceed from any thing else than from the great 
fact of the life manifestation of the sinless and perfect character of Jesus. 

5. When we endeavor to bring before our minds the image of the personality of Jesus 
in direct connection with the influences and works which originated in him, three things 
strike us as peculiar — unlimited perfection, unapproachable dignity, and unconditional 
power of action. The character of Jesus is so constituted that we can not take away one 
single trait from it, or add one to it, without at once being sensible that we have not only 
altered but disfigured it. He includes in himself, in fact, all perfection ; and, along with 
the highest energy, and an inexhaustible fountain of life, there is a harmony so perfect 
that we are compelled to exclaim: Here no improvement can be suggested by the loftiest 
idealizing, for the ideal itself has become real, and the life itself is stamped with the seal 
of perfection ! In its perfection we feel, moreover, that something attaches to the person 
of Jesus which our thoughts and words are incapable of grasping. Art has striven in 
vain to find an adequate expression for the image of Christ; and so, to describe his 



THE HISTORIC VERITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 119 

spiritual nature and character, is a task which never has been, and never will be, accom- 
plished to our complete satisfaction. We feel ever that he is possessed of a dignity which 
is unapproachable by man, of a fullness which, the more we draw from it, the greater do 
its treasures appear. This is perceived not only by separate individuals, but by humanity 
as a whole. The higher and truer the inner life of an individual becomes, the more clearly 
does he discern and realize the image of Jesus; and at every new step in the development 
of humanity the form of the Nazarene is illuminated by a fuller light. At the same time 
there is a distinct consciousness that it is not the image of Christ which increases by 
means of us, but that we, by living more deeply into it, grow in our capacity of under- 
standing it. And however nearly we may approximate toward him, we always feel that 
he towers above us at a bight to which no man will ever be able fully to rise — that there 
is a distance between him and us which none can traverse. This eminence of Jesus is 
further evidenced by the unbounded power of influencing men which he manifests. The 
image of the serene and holy One of Golgotha sinks to the very depths of our heart, and 
presents itself before the soul — sometimes as a conscience warning us of sin and evil, at 
other times like a word of consolation coming directly from our compassionate God. 
And while its influence is thus felt in our own inmost life, it is no less perceptible in the 
ordinary course of the history of mankind. The traces there are alike notorious and 
indelible, and the whole development of humanity, especially in its highest aspects, 
would be inexplicable apart from the recognition of the presence of such a power. We 
can conceive it to be possible that all the great men of history should pass into utter 
oblivion, but we must hold it to be impossible that the memory of this image should 
depart, because it has become part and parcel of the inmost and truest life of humanity. 
Nothing like this can be affirmed of any other man. The capacity and perfection of all 
others are conjoined with limitation and sinfulness; eminence in every other instance is 
explicable on human grounds, and can be represented in human forms; all other influ- 
ence on humanity, even that which deserves to be called world-wide, has its limits. 
The only exception is Jesus, the sinlessly-holy One. 

The question now arises, whether the explanation of this phenomenon can be found 
within the sphere of that which is merely human; or whether it does compel us to 
recognize in Jesus a principle which lies beyond human nature and human powers? ~We, 
surely, can have no hesitation in denying the former and affirming the latter. If sinless- 
ness or moral perfection were within the reach of man in his present condition, how has 
it come to pass that experience only furnishes one example of perfect freedom from sin? 
AVhy have not persons risen up among men, from time to time, who could lay claim to 
the same superiority, and compel others to acknowledge the justice of their pretensions? 
The only rational ground of the fact is, that a principle of sin is implanted in human 
nature — not, indeed, by original constitution,* but certainly, in its present state, that sin, 
although not the true, is still the second nature of man — that it penetrates and rules the 
whole race. The principle of sin being in such a manner ingrafted in human nature, in 
the condition in which experience presents it to us, only one supposition can render 
intelligible the existence of a sinless man; namely, that the chain of sin has been broken, 
and that, in consequence, a personality has arisen in the midst of the sinful race, whose 
nature is thoroughly whole and sound, to which have been given powers perfectly pure 
and amply sufficient for the realization of the higher life. But this is only possible as 
the result of a Divine creation. Such a person could not be the product of a race sub- 
jected to sin. In this aspect he, in whom the possibility of being sinless has become a 

*'" Never was there a man so purely man as the second Adam, the Lord from heaven. Never man spoke so 
humanly, felt so humanly, loved so humanly, lived so humanly, died so humanly. Bone of our bone, and flesh of 
our flesh, he had a more genuine humanity than any of the other sons of Adam, inasmuch as it was free from that 
demoniac adulteration which had been produced by sin. Hence he is so emphatically called, and delights to call 
himself, the Son of man. The term has more meaning than it seems at first view to possess. In the Syriac it is 
the name for humanity itself." (Tayler Lewis's "The Divine Human of the Scriptures," p. 6.) 



120 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



reality, must be considered a totally new man, a second Adam. But this second Adam, 
with whose humanity begins a new career, although like the first as respects the sound- 
ness and integrity of the higher powers of life, stands in an entirely-different position 
toward the world. The first man was put in a world where as yet sin was not, and he 
had only to decide for obedience or disobedience to the plain Divine command which had 
been given him. The second Adam was born as a child into a world which was already 
under the dominion of sin, and, through all the stages of the development of his life, was 
exposed to its influence. In the course of such a development, independently of any 
natural bias in a man, sin comes upon him from all sides; it takes possession of him 
when he is as j-et in an unconscious, or only half-conscious state; and when he awakens 
up to full consciousness it is already in the field, and has gained a power with which he 
has to struggle, not only outwardly but inwardly. Hence the impossibility of conceiving 
of a development, actually free from sin, being accomplished in a natural way under 
existing circumstances. But if, as we have found in Jesus, such a development has, not- 
withstanding all influences to the contrary, been brought to pass, we can not feel any 
hesitation in assuming the presence of something over and above, and in union with, the 
integrity of constitution originally given. In him whose development was thus sinless, 
there must have been an infallible sureness enabling him during its whole course, and 
even at those stages of it when he was not as yet awakened to full consciousness, to 
reject every thing impure, untrue, and sinful, and to appropriate for his inner life only 
the pure, true, and good, from that which the surrounding world presented to him. It 
must therefore be conceded that a Divine principle conditioned the original integrity of 
Jesus, and was a constituent element of his personality, and that it grew and progressed 
in perfect symmetry and in harmony with the human element; and that, consequently, 
so far from hindering, it really promoted the natural development of the latter, and 
secured its perfect purity and orderliness. Clearly, however, we can not understand by 
this Divine principle merely something akin or bearing resemblance to God, such as is in 
every man; for sin can and actually does coexist therewith in every man, while the sin- 
lessness of Jesus separates him from, and constitutes him superior to, all other men. We 
must, therefore, consider that principle to be Divine in its uncorrupted and true essence. 
In this way we are led from the sinless Son of man to the Son of God, and the recognition of 
the pure humanity of Jesus ends in the conviction of his true Divinity. His personality is so 
constituted that, as we attentively regard it, we find it marked by those very character- 
istics of truth, righteousness, holiness, and love, which constitute the essential nature of 
God. Our thoughts, therefore, unavoidably ascend to God. "We are utterly unable to 
understand or account for his personality otherwise. The conviction is forced upon us 
that, so far as it is possible to see God in human form, we have him before us in the 
person of Jesus. And, inasmuch as Jesus presents humanity and Divinity in complete 
union and interpenetration, we can not conceive of him otherwise than as God-man. 

§ 30. The Miracles wrought on and performed by Jesus the Natural and Neces- 
sary Outflow of his Historically-proved Personality, and, at the same 
time, the Ground and "Warrant of all other True Miracles, pre- 
ceding AND SUCCEEDING HIS APPEARANCE ON EARTH. 

We take it for granted that the miracles of the Gospel history are meant to be real 
miracles, according to the definition which we have given of a miracle in § 22. All 
attempts to explain them away, by putting language to the rack, or by resolving them 
into effects from natural causes, have so utterly failed, that those who made such attempts 
are ridiculed by infidelity itself. Again, the testimony of so credible men as the Evan- 
gelists, (see §§ 24, 25, 26,) maybe considered sufficient to satisfy a reasonable inquiry after 
the verity of the miracles they record, more especially when we take into consideration 



THE HISTORIC VERITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 121 

that, according to their testimony, Christ himself claimed the power to work miracles, 
and appealed to it as a proof of his Divine mission ; for the supposition that Jesus should 
have given a false testimony concerning himself, we have seen to be utterly inconceiva- 
ble; and if the testimony of the Evangelists on this point were false, if the miracles 
they attribute to Jesus were mere fables, the product of their age, the question arises, 
how was it possible for them to preserve such a character as that of Christ in its perfect 
proportions? "If there be a greater miracle," observes Bushnell, "or a tax on human 
credulity more severe, we know not where it is. Nothing is so difficult, all human lit- 
erature testifies, as to draw a character, and keep it in its living proportions. How much 
more to draw a perfect character, and not discolor it fatally by marks from the imperfec- 
tion of the biographer! How is it, then, that four humble men have done this, while 
loading down the history of Christ with marvels and fables?" 

The verity of the Gospel miracles, however, as we remarked in the introduction to 
this chapter, rests not simply nor chiefly on the credibility of the Evangelists. It is the 
moral perfection of Jesus, unparalleled and never having been conceived of by man 
before, that furnishes the unassailable voucher of his having performed miracles. Very 
boldly, but truly, Bushnell remarks: "It is no ingenious fetches of argument that we 
want ; no external testimony, gathered here and there from the records of past ages, 
suffices to end our doubts; but it is the new sense opened in us by Jesus himself — a sense 
deeper than words and more immediate than inference — of the miraculous grandeur of 
his life — a glorious agreement felt between his works and his person, such that his mira- 
cles themselves are proved to us in our feeling, believed in by that inward testimony. 
On this inward testimony we are willing to stake every thing, even the life that now is, 
and that which is to come. If the miracles, if revelation itself can not stand upon the 
superhuman character of Jesus, then let it fall. If that character does not contain all 
truth and centralize all truth in itself, then let there be no truth. If there is any thing 
worthy of belief not found in this, we may well consent to live and die without it. 
Before this sovereign light, streaming out from God, the deep questions, and dark sur- 
mises, and doubts unresolved, which make a night so gloomy and terrible about us, hurry 
away to their native abyss. God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, 
has shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the 
face of Jesus Christ. This it is that has conquered the assaults of doubt and false learn- 
ing in all past ages, and will in all ages to come. No argument against the sun will 
drive it from the sky. No mole-eyed skepticism, dazzled by its brightness, can turn 
away the shining it refuses to look upon. And they who lung after God will be ever 
turning their eyes thitherward, and, either with reason or without reason, or, if need 
be, against manifold impediments of reason, will see and believe." 

"We have shown, by a full and critical examination of the character of Jesus, that it 
can not have been an invention, but that such a person must have lived, else he could 
not be described, and that he plainly was not a mere man. This historically-proved per- 
son — a being who has broken into the world, and is not of it, but has come out from 
God — is himself the one central and grandest miracle that occurred in the history of the 
world, the ground and warrant for all other true miracles, preceding and succeeding his 
appearance on earth, and all the miracles, wrought on and performed by him, are only 
the natural outflow of that which is already contained in his personality. They are of 
the same significance in respect of the natural powers as sinlessness is in respect of the 
moral powers. A perfectly-sinless man is no whit less miraculous a phenomenon in the 
moral world than a man raised from the dead is in the natural world. To recognize 
Jesus as sinlessly holy, and yet to deny the miraculous element in his life, would be self- 
contradictory. It is inconceivable that he should have entered or left the world like 
other men. Sinful humanity could not produce out of itself the Son of Man, whom to 
see was to see God the Father, and the historical development of his earthly life would 



122 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



have had no fitting completion, if he had not risen from the dead and ascended to 
heaven. His supernatural conception, his resurrection and ascension can be called in 
question only by one who attempts to blot from the record of history the earthly life and 
character of Jesus, the words spoken and the influences on the minds of men exercised 
by him. Whoever admits these irrefutable facts of history, must expect supernatural 
works to proceed from this supernatural personality. The contrary would be unnatural. 
"Since Jesus is shown," says Bushnell, "to be a superhuman being, manifestly Nature 
will have a relation to him under and by her own laws, such as accords with his super- 
human quality, and it would be very singular if he did not do superhuman things; nay, 
it is even philosophically incredible that he should not. . . . Nay, it would be itself 
a contradiction to all order and fit relation if he could not. To suppose that a being out 
of humanity will be shut up within all the limitations of humanity, is incredible and 
contrary to reason. The very laws of nature themselves, having him present to them as 
a new agent and higher first term, would require the development of new consequences 
and incidents in the nature of wonders. Being a miracle himself, it would be the great- 
est of all miracles if he did not work miracles." 

Another highly-gifted American writer of our day, Tayler Lewis, in his " The Divine 
Human in the Scriptures," says to the same purpose : " In the Bible even the supernat- 
ural — we may say it without a paradox — is most natural. It is in such true keeping with 
the times, with the events and doctrines it attests, with all the surrounding historical cir- 
cumstances as they are narrated, that we almost lose the feeling of the supernatural in 
the admirable harmony and consistency of the ideas and scenes presented. It seems to 
be just what might have been expected; it would be strange that it should be otherwise; 
the marvelous here is the presumptive, the extraordinary becomes the easy of belief." 
After illustrating this thought by every part of the Old Testament, where the super- 
natural appears, he continues:* "But it is in the history of Christ that the idea on which 
we are dwelling receives its most powerful verification. A life so unearthly, so heavenly, 
so spiritual, so transcending nature, so full of a Divine power manifesting itself in every 
word and act, so spent in nights of prayer, and days of sublimest teachings — how out of 
all keeping does it seem, that to a state so earth-transcending in its spirituality, there 
should be no corresponding witness of the supernatural ! . . . There is a demand for 
its presence, as not only a fitting but an indispensable accompaniment. The idea can not 
be complete without it. Such power over the soul! it must extend to the body and the 
physical life; absence of this healing energy would have been the difficulty to be ex- 
plained, the feature in the narrative not easy of belief. Such a life and such a death ! 
the resurrection is the only appropriate sequence of a career on earth, yet so unearthly; 
the ascension into heaven is the only appropriate finale to a drama so heavenly and 
divine. — The serious reader can not help feeling that in the life of Christ, as given to us 
by the Evangelists, there is something more than a supernatural gift, or the occasional 
power of working miracles, as something imparted from without, or only exercised by 
himself through special effort in each particular case. We are impressed, rather, with 
the idea of the constant supernatural, as a vailed power, not so much requiring an effort 
for its manifestation as a restraint to prevent it beaming forth before unholy eyes that 
could not bear, or might profane the sight. In that earthly tabernacle there was the con- 
stant dwelling of the Shekinah, more powerfully present when alone, perhaps, or with a 
few chosen ones. . . . 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,' is an excla- 
mation called out more by the overpowering effect of this constant presence, than by any 
great public displays of miraculous power. It is this, more than any thing else, that is 
attested by the holy apostle John in the words: 'That which was from the beginning, 
which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which our hands have handled 

* We quote, leaving out all that would interrupt our argument or weaken its force. 



THE HISTORIC VERITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 123 



of the "Word of Life, for the Life was manifested and we saw it, and we testify, and tell 
unto you of that eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested unto us.' 
The reference is not so much to striking outward displays as to the constant spiritual 
effulgence ever beaming on the soul of the spiritual disciple, and sometimes, even to the 
eye of sense, surrounding the person of Christ with an outward glory. From the inward 
supernatural, as from a never intermitting fountain, proceeded the outward miracle- 
working power, as exhibited in distinct acts. . . . Thus, too, are we told of a constant 
virtue dwelling in the Savior's person; as in the story of the woman who 'touched the 
hem of his garment that she might be healed.' Her spiritual state, that is, her pure 
faith, brought her in a living relation to this power so vailed to the unbelieving or merely 
curious multitude; and the Savior sanctions her thought when he says: 'I know that 
power has gone forth from me.' . . . It is credible, it is even to be expected that the 
supernatural should shine out through a natural so elevated above the ordinary condition 
of humanity. There is a deep mystery even in our common physical energy. The 
strength of the body is, in its' ultimate resolution, a power of the quiescent spirit. Ac- 
tivity, force, yea, even in some sense, motus or outgoing energy are attributes of soul, even 
when at rest, as much as thought, or will, or emotion. The present bodily organization, 
instead of a necessary aid, may be, in fact, a limiting, a restraint upon a tremendous 
power, that needs to be confined as long as it is joined to a selfish or unholy will, even as 
we chain the madman in his cell. Sometimes, even in common life, there are fearful 
exhibitions of the loosening of these material bonds. In the last stages of bodily weak- 
ness, apparently, some delirium of the soul, if we may call it such, brings out a power of 
nerve and muscle irresistible to any ordinary strength, inexplicable to any ordinary phys- 
iological knowledge. The cases, indeed, are vastly different, and yet there is some analogy. 
Such views of the common organism do not at all account for the higher power that may 
dwell in a perfectly holy spirituality; but they render it credible; they prepare us to 
believe in it, yea, to feel it as a spiritual dissonance if there be wholly lacking some high 
command of nature, in connection with a perfect faith and holy will ever in harmony 
with the divine. It is the Scriptures, however, that must furnish our only reliable ground 
of argument on this mysterious subject; and here we find no small proof of such a con- 
stant indwelling glory of the supernatural as distinguished from an occasional miraculous 
gift. In certain passages there is the strongest expression of Christ's unwillingness to 
gratify curiosity by the display of an outward sign; in others there is shown an evident 
reluctance to have this holy influence the subject of any profane or gossiping rumor. 
But again, he exhibits it of his own accord to chosen disciples, and then it has the ap- 
pearance of a manifestation, to favored souls, of a power and a spiritual glory ever more 
truly present in his retired than in his public life. Such is the impression left upon the 
mind by the account of the transfiguration. . . . Something, too, of the same feeling 
comes over us as we read the account of Christ walking on the waters. . . . Why 
walking thus at that deep time of night over the wild and lonely waves? It was not 
needed, in addition to his other miracles, for the confirming of the disciples' faith. It 
seems, rather, the unearthly act of one filled with unearthly thoughts, and seeking a cor- 
respondence to them in the more unearthly, or, as we might even call them, supernatural 
aspects of the natural world. If the answer can not well be given in any thing out of 
himself, why should we fear to say that it was a rapt physical state, in harmony with an 
elevated spiritual frame, that demanded it as its fitting outward action? The ecstasy of 
the soul lifts up the body. There is something of this in the mere earthly human expe- 
rience. There is a spiritual condition that seems comparatively, if not absolutely, to 
loosen the power of gravity, to set volition free, and release even the flesh from the hold 
of earthly bonds. How much more of this ethereal soaring must there have been in the 
ecstasies of Jesus? In the human spiritual power, as known to us, there is, indeed, noth- 
ing that can- be strictly compared with it; and yet there is enough to render credible 



124 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



such an absolute triumph over matter in the case of one so holy and so heavenly as 
Christ. . . . We think there is no irreverence in such thoughts. At all events, with- 
out any special reasoning about spiritual and physical conditions, there is in Scripture 
itself good evidence that the human nature in Christ was ever in connection with the 
supernatural, and that the special miraculous acts were unvailings of a constant hidden 
power, rather than special enablings or special efforts in each particular case. Christ's 
own words convey this thought: ' He is the resurrection and the life.' Even when vailed 
in human flesh, he is still the brightness of the Father, the express image of his hypostasis. 
' We beheld his glory,' says John, ' the glory of the Only-Begotten, full of grace and 
truth.' The humanity, too, is a true humanity ; no one was ever more perfectly human ; 
and yet so wondrous is he, even in his manhood, that it forces the idea of the superhu- 
man and the supernatural as not only the casual explanation of such an existence, but its 
own fitting, yea, necessary accompaniment." 

While we have, as we think, presented sufficient grounds in support of our proposi- 
tion, that all the miracles wrought on and performed by Christ were the natural and 
necessary outflow of that which is implied in his historically-proved personality — that is, 
that we can not, as we are compelled to do, recognize Jesus as sinlessly holy, and yet 
consistently deny the miraculous element in his life — we are, of course, far from permit- 
ting the unauthorized inference, that the exercise of miraculous powers necessarily 
involves or depends upon sinlessness on the part of every person possessed of miraculous 
powers. We have, on the contrary, referred to the fact that, while with all other persons 
to whom the Scriptures ascribe the performance of miracles, it is represented as a super- 
natural gift, as a power imparted from without, and exercised only occasionally through 
a special effort, the personality of Christ is the only one that stood in such constant con- 
nection with the supernatural ; that the special miraculous acts performed by him or 
wrought on him were only the unvailings of a constant hidden power, requiring not so 
much an effort for its manifestation as a restraint to prevent its beaming forth before 
unholy eyes. The relation, therefore, which we have discovered between the sinlessness 
of Jesus and the miracles ascribed to him, admits of no application to other men who 
wrought miracles, except in so far as, wherever the miraculous element appears in the 
Holy Scriptures, it appears, in the popular sense of the word, natural, that is, "in such 
true keeping with the times and occasions by which it is called forth, and in such admi- 
rable harmony with the events and doctrines which it attests, that we almost lose the 
feeling of the supernatural." But not only this, we have remarked above that Christ 
himself, being the one central and grandest miracle that occurred in the history of the 
world, is at the same time the ground and warrant for all other true miracles, preceding and 
succeeding his appearance on earth. 

This is a truth which is too much overlooked in the discussion of miracles. In sec- 
tion 22 we showed that miracles are not a disruption of the divinely-established order of 
the world, but a demonstration of Divine agency for the purpose of restoring the order 
of the world, which had been disordered by sin, the act of created free agents. Had 
there not taken place a disorder of the world by sin, there would, indeed, seem to be no 
demand or even place for that especial Divine agency which we call miraculous. This 
miraculous agency of God culminated in the incarnation of his Son, the Eedeemer from 
sin, and it is self-evident that he, being the greatest miracle himself, should work mira- 
cles. But it is equally evident why Divine Wisdom did not see fit to confine to his person 
the manifestation of the miraculous agency necessary for the restoration of the moral 
order of the world. Mankind was to be prepared for the reception of the greatest mira- 
cles by the less. The history of the nation in which the Son of God should be born, 
especially the bringing the people of Israel out of the bondage of Egypt, and consti- 
tuting the covenant people of God, bore, therefore, the stamp of the immediate operation 
of God ; the Divine messengers, especially the great legislator and mediator of the first 



THE HISTORIC VERITY OF THE GOSPEL RECORDS. 125 

covenant, Moses, needed the authentication by miracles, and the spirit of prophecy, the 
continuous and most irrefutable miracle of the Old Testament, had, with the types and 
the shadows of the law, to point out the coming Messiah. Nor was it proper that the 
manifestation of supernatural power, preparing for and culminating in the appearance 
of the Son of God in the flesh, should at once terminate with his ascension to heaven; 
for, in this case, men would have been still more slow, than they are, to believe that 
the greatest of all miracles had taken place. The apostles, preaching Jesus and the 
resurrection, needed God to bear them witness with signs and wonders and with divers 
miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost, and we have credible testimony that the power of 
working miracles continued with the Church, to some extent, during several centuries.* 
A consideration of the peculiar nature, significance, importance, and design of the 
miracles performed by Christ does not properly fall within the scope of our present 
investigation. We shall consider the miracles of Christ in these practical aspects in our 
introductoiy remarks to the eighth chapter of Matthew, where we meet the first record 
of a Gospel miracle. How we can distinguish true, Divine miracles from false ones, 
wrought by diabolic agency, we shall discuss in our comment on Matthew vii, 22. 

* In connection with these remarks it is proper to consider the question : Whether miracles are now discontinued ; 
and, if so, why ? This question we know not how to answer better than Dr. Bushnell has done : " The Scriptures no 
where teach, what is often assumed, the final discontinuance of miracles ; and it is much to be regretted that such 
an assumption is so commonly made. There is no certain proof that miracles have not been wrought in every age 
of the Christian Church. There is certainly a supernatural and Divine causality streaming into the lives and blend- 
ing with the faith of all good men, and there is no reason to doubt that it may sometimes issue in premonitions, 
results of guidance and healing, endowments of force, answers to prayer that closely approach in many cases, if 
they do not exactly meet, our definition of miracles. Again, if miracles have been discontinued, even for a thou- 
sand years, they may yet be revived in such varieties of form as a different age may require. They will be revived 
without fail whenever the ancient reason may return, or any new contingency may occur, demanding their instru- 
mentality. And yet good and sufficient reasons may be given why the more palpable miracles of the apostolic age 
could not be continued, or must needs be interspaced by agencies of a more silent character. It may have been 
that they would by and by corrupt the impressions and ideas even of religion, setting men to look after signs and 
prodigies with their eyes, and so, instead of attesting God to them, making them unspiritual and even incapable 
of faith. Traces of this mischief begin to appear even in the times of the apostles themselves. Christianity, it is 
very obvious, inaugurates the faith of a supernatural agency in the world. Hence, to inaugurate such a faith, it 
must needs make its entry into the world through the fact of a Divine incarnation and other miracles. In these 
we have the pole of thought, opposite to nature, set before us in distinct exhibition. And then the problem is, 
having the two poles of nature and the supernatural presented, that we be trained to apprehend them conjunc- 
tively, or as working together in silent terms of order. For, if the miracles continue in their palpable and staring 
form of wonders, and take their footing as a permanent institution, they will breed a sensuous, desultory state of 
mind, opposite to all sobriety and all genuine intelligence. At a certain point the miracles were needed as the 
polar signs of a new force — but, for the reason suggested, it appears to be necessary, also, that they should not be 
continuous ; otherwise, the supernatural will never be brought into any terms of order, as a force conjoined with 
nature in our common experience, but will only instigate a wild, eccentric temper, closely akin to unreason, and to 
all practical delusions. And yet there may be times, even to the end of the world, when some outburst of the 
miraculous force of God will be needed to break up a lethargy of unbelief and sensuous dullness, equally unrea- 
soning and desultory." 



126 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



PART IV. 

THE ATTACKS OF MODERN CRITICISM OJST THE IKSPI 
RATIOS' OF THE FIRST THREE GOSPELS. 



§ 31. The Relation which the Authenticity and Credibility of the Gospel Records 

bear to their inspiration. 

The arguments by which we have established the authenticity or apostolical origin of 
the Gospel records, and the Divine as well as human attestations of their credibility 
involve also their inspiration. To prove the trustworthiness of the Scriptures from their 
assumed inspiration, and then to deduce the inspiration from the testimony of the Scrip- 
tures, would be a begging of the question. Instead of this we have proved the authen- 
ticity and credibility of the Gospels, without any reference to an assumed inspiration, on 
simply historical grounds, and this historical argumentation is the only outward proof 
needed for their inspiration. With regard to outward proofs of inspiration Mr. "Westcott 
remarks very justly: "To speak of the proof of the inspiration of the Scriptures in- 
volves, indeed, an unworthy limitation of the idea itself In the fullest sense of the word 
we can not prove the presence of life, but are simply conscious of it; and inspiration is 
the manifestation of a higher life. The words of Scripture are spiritual words, and as 
such are spiritually discerned. The ultimate test of the reality of inspiration lies in the 
intuition of that personal faculty — nvevfia — by which inspired men once recorded the 
words of God, and are still able to hold communion with him. Every thing short of this 
leaves the great truth still without us; and that which should be a source of life is in 
danger of becoming a mere dogma." (Introduction to the Study of the Gospels, p. 45.) 
In Parts II and III we have met all the attacks that have been made upon the authen- 
ticity and the credibility of the Gospels, with the exception of the objections, which 
modern criticism has deduced from the peculiar relation, in which the three first (synop- 
tic) Gospels stand to one another and to that of John. These objections lie, indeed, not 
against the authenticity and credibility of the synoptic Gospels, but would, if sustained, 
invalidate their inspiration. For while in ordinary historians the strictest integrity is 
compatible with slight inaccuracy, divergence of testimony — the least discrepancy — ap- 
pears formidable in a work written by Divine inspiration. It is, therefore, proper to ex- 
amine these critical difficulties in connection with the question of inspiration — a question 
which of itself deserves a separate consideration. 

Before we, however, enter upon this examination, let us glance at some of the general 
chai-acteristics of the Gospel records, which, as Mr. "Westcott remarks, can only be ac- 
counted for on the assumption of their inspiration. "They are fragmentary in form. 
Their writers make no attempt to relate all the actions or discourses of our Lord, and 
show no wish to select the most marvelous series of his mighty works, and probably no 
impartial judge will find in any one of them a conscious attempt to form a narrative sup- 
plementary to those of the others. But if we know by the ordinary laws of criticism 
that our Gospels are the only authentic records of the Savior's life, while we believe that 
Providence regards the wellbeing of the Christian Church, are we not necessarily led to 
conclude that some Divine power overruled their composition, so that what must other- 



THE ATTACKS OF MODERN CRITICISM ON THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS. 127 

wise seem a meager and incomplete record should contain all that is fittest historically to 
aid our progress and determine our faith? Nor can it be unworthy of notice that while 
the Gospels evidently contain so small a selection from the works and words of Christ, so 
few details unrecorded by the Evangelists should have been preserved in other ways. . . . 
The numerous witnesses of our Lord's works and teaching must have treasured up with 
affection each recollection of their past intercourse; but the cycle of the Evangelic narra- 
tive is clearly marked, and it can not but seem that the same Power which so definitely 
circumscribed its limits determined its contents. Again, the Gospels are unchronological 
in order. We are at once cautioned against regarding them as mere history, and encour- 
aged to look for some new law of arrangement in their contents, which, as I shall en- 
deavor to prove, must result from a higher power than an unaided instinct or an enlight- 
ened consciousness. Once more, the Gospels are brief and apparently confused in style. 
There is no trace in them of the anxious care or ostentatious zeal which mark the ordi- 
nary productions of curiosity or devotion. The Evangelists write as men who see through 
all time, and only contemplate the events which they record in their spiritual relations. 
But, at the same time, there is an originality and vigor in every part of the Gospels, 
which become a Divine energy in the Gospel of John. As mere compositions they stand 
out from all other histories with the noble impress of simplicity and power; and it is as 
if the faithful reflection of the image of God shed a clear light on the whole narrative. 
The answer was once given to the Pharisees, when they sought to take Jesus, that never 
man spoke like that man, and those who assail the authority of the Gospels have been 
constrained to confess that never was history written as in them." (Introd., pp. 46—48.) 
On the characteristic differences of the four Gospels Mr. Westeott says further: "The 
three synoptic Gospels are not mere repetitions of one narrative, but distinct views of a 
complex whole. The same salient points reappear in all, but they are found in new com- 
binations and with new details, as the features of a landscape or the outlines of a figure 
when viewed from various points. . . . The only conception which we can form of 
the inspiration of a historic record lies in the Divine fitness of the outward dress in which 
the facts are at once embodied and vailed. No record of any fact can be complete. The 
relations of the most trivial occurrence transcend all power of observation, and the truth- 
fulness of special details is no pledge of the truthfulness of the whole impression. The con- 
nection and relation and subordination of the various parts, the description and suppression 
of particular incidents, the choice of language and style, combine to make a history true 
in its higher significance. This power the Evangelists possessed in the fact that they 
were penetrated with the truth of which they spoke. The Spirit which was in them 
searched the deep things of God, and led them to realize the mysteries of the faith. . . . 
The contrast between the Gospel of John and the synoptic Gospels, both in substance and 
in individual character, is obvious at first sight; but the characteristic differences of the 
synoptic Gospels, which are formed on the same foundation and with common materials, 
are less observed. Yet these differences are not less important than the former, and 
belong equally to the complete portraiture of the Savior." (Introd., pp. 218-220.) The 
individual character of each of the four Gospels the reader will find delineated in the 
special introductions to the respective Gospels. 

§ 32. The Peculiar Agreement and Disagreement of the First Three Evangelists 
in their Narratives, and the Various Explanations op this Singular Phenomenon. 

The striking difference in contents and character of the first three Gospels from the 
fourth presents no difficulty. It is easily and satisfactorily accounted for by the differ- 
ence of the individuality and scope of the Synoptists from that of John, as will be shown 
in the introduction to each Gospel, as well as by the fact of the later origin of John's 
Gospel. Owing to this later origin, we may take it for granted that the synoptical 



128 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



Gospels were already generally known when John wrote; that he, therefore, purposely 
abstaining from writing anew what they had at sufficient length recorded, only sought 
to complete them by narrating those portions of the life of Jesus which had been omitted 
by the Synoptists. The peculiar difficulties which claim our attention present themselves 
when we compare the synoptical Gospels with each other. 

There is in them a great amount of agreement. If we suppose the history that they 
contain to be divided into sections, in forty -two of these all the three narratives coincide; 
twelve more are given by Matthew and Mark only; five by Mark and Luke only, and 
fourteen by Matthew and Luke. To these must be added five peculiar to Matthew, two 
to Mark, and nine to Luke, and the enumeration is complete. But this applies only to 
general coincidence as to the facts narrated; the amount of verbal coincidence, that is, 
the passages either verbally the same, or coinciding in the use of many of the same 
words, is much smaller. Without going minutely into the examination of examples, the 
leading facts connected with the subject may be thus summed up: The verbal and mate- 
rial agreement of the first three Evangelists is such as does not occur in any other 
authors who have written independently of one another. The verbal agreement is 
greater where the spoken words of others are cited than where facts are recorded, and 
greatest in quotations of the Avords of our Lord. But in some leading events, as in the 
call of the first four disciples, in that of Matthew, and in the transfiguration, the agree- 
ment even in expression is remarkable; there are also narratives where there is no 
verbal harmony in the outset, but only in the crisis or emphatic part of the story. 
(Matt, viii, 3, Mark i, 41, Luke v, 13; and Matt xiv, 19, 20, Mark vi, 41-43, Luke ix, 16, 
17.) The narratives of our Lord's early life, as given by Matthew and Luke, have little 
in common, while Mark does not include that part of the history in his plan. The 
agreement in the narrative portions of the Gospels begins with the baptism of John, and 
reaches its highest point in the account of the Passion of our Lord and the facts that 
preceded it; so that a direct ratio might almost be said to exist between the agreement 
and the nearness of the facts that sustain a close relation to the Passion. After this 
event, in the account of his burial and resurrection, the coincidences are few. The lan- 
guage of all three is Greek, with Hebrew idioms; the Hebraisms are most abundant in 
Mark, and fewest in Luke. In quotations from the Old Testament the Evangelists, or 
two of them, sometimes exhibit a verbal agreement, although they differ from the He- 
brew and from the Septuagint version. (Matt, iii, 3, Mark i, 3, Luke iii, 4; and Matt, iv, 
10, Luke iv, 8; and Matt. ori, 10; Mark i, 2; Luke vii, 27, etc.) Except as to twenty-four 
verses, the Gospel of Mark contains no principal facts which are no,t found in Matthew 
and Luke; but he often supplies details omitted by them, and these are often such as 
would belong to the graphic account of an eye-witness. There are no cases in which 
Matthew and Luke exactly harmonize, where Mark does not also coincide with them. 
In several places the words of Mark have something in common with each of the other 
narratives, so as to form a connecting link between them, where their words slightly 
differ. The examples of verbal agreement between Mark and Luke are not so long or so 
numerous as those between Matthew and Luke, and Matthew and Mark; but, as to the 
arrangement of events, Mark and Luke frequently coincide where Matthew differs from 
them. These are the leading particulars; but they are very far from giving a complete 
notion of a phenomenon that is well worthy of that attention and reverent study of the 
sacred text by which alone it can be fully and fairly apprehended. 

The three Gospels exhibit themselves as three distinct records of the life and works 
of the Pedeemer, but with a greater amount of agreement than three wholly -independent 
accounts could be expected to exhibit. The agreement would, be no difficult]/ without the differ- 
ences; it would only mark the one Divine source from which they all are derived, the 
Holy Spirit who spoke by the prophets. The difference of form and style without the agree- 
ment would offer no difficulty, since there may be a substantial harmony between accounts 



THE ATTACKS OF MODEKN CRITICISM ON THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS. 129 

that differ greatly in mode of expression, and the very difference might be a guarantee 
of independence. The harmony and the variety, the agreement and the differences, 
together, form the problem with which Biblical critics have occupied themselves for a cen- 
tury and a half. To ascribe the verbal differences of the Evangelists, in their reports of 
sayings of our Lord and of events, in the midst of their general and substantial agree- 
ment, simply and directly to the dictation of the Holy Spirit, would make the difficulty 
greater instead of less. The singular phenomenon can be naturally accounted for only 
by assuming the interdependence of one Evangelist upon the other, or some common source, 
written or oral, or a combination of these elements. 

I. The first and most obvious theory has been, that the narrators made use of each 
other's works. Accordingly, Grotius, Mill, Wetstein, G-riesbach, and many others, have 
endeavored to ascertain which Gospel is to be regarded as the first; which is copied first; 
and which is copied from the other two. It is remarkable that each of the six possible 
combinations has found advocates, and that for the support of each hypothesis the same 
phenomena have been curiously and variously interpreted. This of itself proves the 
uncertainty of the theory. It is thoroughly refuted by Alford. If one or two of the 
Evangelists borrowed from the other, we must adopt one of the following suppositions: 
1. That the later Evangelist, finding the earlier Gospel, or Gospels, insufficient, was anx- 
ious to supply what was wanting. But no possible arrangement of the three Gospels will 
suit the requirements of this supposition. The shorter Gospel of Mark can not be an 
expansion of the more complete Gospels of Matthew or Luke. No less can these two 
Gospels be considered as exj)ansions of Mark; for his Gospel, although shorter, and nar- 
rating fewer events and discourses, is, in those which he does narrate, the fullest and 
most particular of the three. And again, Luke could not have supplemented Matthew; 
for there are most important portions of Matthew which he has altogether omitted, (e. g., 
chapter xxv, and much of chapters xiii and xv;) nor could Matthew have supplemented 
Luke, having omitted almost all of the important matter recorded by Luke, from ix, 51- 
xviii, 15. Moreover, this supposition leaves all the difficulties of different arrangement 
and minute discrepancy unaccounted for. We pass on, 2. To the supposition that the 
later Evangelist purposed to improve the earlier one, especially in point of chronological 
order. If it were so, nothing could have been done less calculated to answer the end 
than that which our Evangelists have done. For in no material point do their accounts 
differ, but only in arrangement and completeness; and this latter difference is such that 
no one of them can be cited as taking any pains to make it appear that his own arrange- 
ment is chronologically accurate. No fixed dates are found in those parts where the dif- 
ferences exist; no word to indicate that any other arrangement had ever been published. 
3. Neither does the supposition that the later Evangelists wished to adapt their Gospels 
to a different class of readers — incorporating, at the same time, whatever additional mat- 
ter they possessed — in any way account for the phenomena of our present Gospels. For, 
even taking for granted the usual assumption, that Matthew wrote for Hebrew Christians, 
Mark for Latins, and Luke for Gentiles in general, we do not find any such consistency 
in these purposes as a revision and alteration of another's narrative would necessarily 
presuppose. We have the visit of the Gentile Magi exclusively related by the Hebraizing 
Matthew; the circumcision of the child Jesus, and his frequenting the Passovers at Jeru- 
salem, by the Gentile Evangelist Luke. Had the above purposes been steadily kept in 
view in the revision of the narratives before them, the resjiective Evangelists could not 
have omitted incidents so entirely subservient to their respective designs. Or, 4. It may 
be supposed that, receiving one or two Gospels as authentic, the later Evangelist bor- 
rowed from them such parts as he purposed to narrate in common with them. But this 
does not represent the matter of fact. In no case does any Evangelist borrow from an 
other any considerable part of even a single narrative. For such borrowing — unless it 
was with the intent of fraudulently plagiarizing from them, slightly disguising the 



130 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



common matter so as to make it appear original — would imply verbal coincidence. It is 
inconceivable that one writer, borrowing from another matter confessedly of the very 
first importance, in good faith and with approval, should alter his diction so singularly and 
capriciously as, on this hypothesis, we find the text of the parallel sections of our Gospels 
altered. Let the question be answered by ordinary considerations of probability, and let 
any passage common to the three Evangelists be put to the test. The phenomena pre- 
sented will be more or less as follows : First, perhaps, we shall have three or five or more 
words identical; then as many wholly distinct; then two clauses or more expressed in the 
same words, hut differing in order; then a clause contained in one or two, and not in the third; 
then several words identical; then a clause not only wholly distinct, but apparently 
inconsistent; and so forth, with recurrences of the same anomalous alterations, coinci- 
dences and transpositions. Nor does this description apply to verbal and sentential 
arrangement only, but also, with slight modifications, to that of the larger portions of 
the narratives. Equally capricious would be the disposition of the subject-matter. 
Sometimes, while coincident in the things related, the Gospels place them in the most 
various order, each in turn connecting them together with apparent marks of chronolog- 
ical sequence — e. g., the visit to Gadara, in Matthew viii, 28, as compared with the same 
in Mark v, 1, and Luke vii, 26, sq. Let any one say, divesting himself of the commonly- 
received hypotheses respecting the connection and order of our Gospels, whether it is 
within the range of probability that a writer should thus singularly alter the subject- 
matter and diction before him, having no design in so doing, but intending, fairly and 
with approval, to incorporate the work of another into his own? Can an instance be 
any where cited of undoubted borrowing and adaptation from another, presenting sim- 
ilar phenomena? We see, from the above argumentation, that any theory of mutual 
interdependence of the three Evangelists fails to account for the appearances presented 
by the synoptic Gospels. "We must come to the conclusion that the three Gospels arose 
independently of one another.* 

II. It has been assumed that there existed a written document in the Aramaic language 
as the common original, from which the three Gospels were drawn, each with more or less 
modification. But as this supposition, though it would account for some of the variations 
in the parallel passages, as being independent translations, would offer no solution what- 
ever of the more important discrepancies of insertion, omission, and amendment, the most 
complicated hypotheses have been advanced, all perfectly capricious and utterly inade- 
quate to account for the phenomena. The supposed original is assumed to have been 

* On this point Mr. Norton makes the following remarks : 

" 1. The conclusion that no one of the first three Evangelists copied from either of the other two, is important 
as showing that their Gospels afford three distinct sources of information concerning the life of Jesus. The Evan- 
gelists, therefore, in their striking correspondence in the representations of his character, miracles, and doctrines 
must be considered as strongly confirming each other's testimony. Nothing but reality, nothing but the fact that 
Jesus had acted and taught, as they represent, would have stamped his character and life so definitely and vividly 
on the minds of individuals ignorant of each other's writings, and enabled them to give narratives, each so con- 
sistent with itself, and all so accordant with one another. A false story concerning an imaginary character would 
have preserved no uniform type. It would have varied in its aspects, according to the different temperaments and 
talents, the conceptions and purposes of its various narrators. 

"2. If the notion that one Evangelist copied from another is proved to be untenable, then the accordance 
among the first three Gospels proves them all to have been written at an early period, when the sources of authen- 
tic information were yet fully accessible, and before any interval had elapsed, during which exaggerations, per- 
versions, and fables, to which the wonderful history of Jesus was exposed, had had time to flow in and to change 
its character. 

" 3. If the Evangelists did not copy one from another, it follows that the first three Gospels must have all been 
written about the same period, since if one had preceded another by any considerable length of time, it can not be 
supposed that the author of the later Gospel would have been unacquainted with the work of his predecessor, or 
would have neglected to make use of it; especially when we take into view that its reputation must have been well 
established among the Christians. Whatever antiquity, therefore, we can show to belong to any one of the first 
three Gospels, the same, or nearly the same, we may ascribe to the other two." 



THE ATTACKS OF MODERN CRITICISM ON THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS. 131 

translated, altered, and annotated by different hands, and the synoptic Gospels are said to 
have been drawn from one or the other of these different forms into which the original 
had passed, or from a combination of them. A theory so prolific of assumptions would 
be admissible only if it could be proved that no other solution is possible. 

The " original Gospel" is supposed to have been of such authority as to be circulated 
every-where, yet so defective as to require annotation from any hand, and so little rever- 
enced that no hand spared it. If the three Evangelists agreed to draw from such a 
work, it must have been widely, if not universally, accepted in the Church; and yet 
there is no record of its existence; if of lower authority, it could not have become the 
basis of the three canonical Gospels. Moreover, the state of literature in Palestine, at 
that time, was not such as to make the assumed, repeated editing, translating, and anno- 
tating of a history a natural and probable process. (Compare §§ 5 and 6.) Happily, 
this hypothesis of an original Gospel, which, if true, would overthrow the Divine author- 
ity of the Gospel records, has been found so untenable on historical and critical grounds, 
that it has been given up by its own inventors. 

III. Having found the assumption of a common original Gospel as untenable as that 
of the interdependence of one Evangelist upon the other, let us examine that solution of 
the problem, which explains the relationship of the synoptical Gospels by deriving them 
from a common oral source, that is, froni the common oral teaching of the apostles; which, 
from the nature of the case, we may assume to have been chiefly historical, giving an 
account of the discourses and acts of Jesus of Xazareth. That the written Gospels were 
the result, not the foundation, of the apostolical preaching, will not be called in question. 
On similar grounds, as the bajDtism of infants, in the nature of the case, was preceded by 
the baptism of adults, it may be said that the experience of oral teaching was required 
in order to commit to writing the vast subject of the life of Christ. In the first period 
of the apostolic age the powerful working of the Holy Spirit in the Church supplied the 
place of those records, which, as soon as the brightness of his presence began to be with- 
drawn, became indispensable, in order to prevent the corruption of the Gospel history by 
false teachers. The great commission given to the apostles was to preach the Gospel, and 
it was only the subsequent want of the Church, established by their preaching, which 
furnished an adequate motive for adding a written record to the testimony of their living 
words. Of the great majority of the apostles all that we know certainly is, that they 
were engaged in instructing, orally, the multitudes who were waiting to receive their 
tidings. The place of instruction was the synagogue and the market-place, not the stu- 
dent's chamber. "The elders refrained from writing," it is said by Clemens, "because 
they would not interrupt the care which they bestowed in teaching orally, by the care of 
composition." Besides, the icritten evidence for the facts of the Gospel was found already 
in the Old Testament. All the prophets spoke of Christ, and to them the apostles con- 
stantly referred, by showing them fulfilled in the life of Christ. That the apostolic 
preaching consisted chiefly in relating the wondrous life, the teaching and the acts, the 
suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord, we learn from the conditions of apostle- 
ship propounded by Peter himself, (Acts i, 21, 22;) that, in order to give a proper testi- 
mony of the resurrection of Christ, an apostle must have been an eye and ear-witness of 
what had happened from the baptism of John till the ascension, that is, during the whole 
official life of our Lord; and, accordingly, Paixl claims to have received an independent 
knowledge, by direct revelation, of at least some of the fundamental parts of the Gospel 
history, (Galatians i, 12; 1 Cor. xi, 23; xxv, 3.) to qualify him for his calling as an 
apostle. That the apostolic preaching was chiefly historic, is confirmed by Luke, who, 
in the preface to his Gospel, expressly designates the oral apostolical testimony as the 
source of the Evangelical narratives, which many had taken in hand to draw up; and, as 
far as the records of apostolic preaching in the Acts of the Apostles go, they confirm this 
view. Peter, at Csesarea, and Paul, at Antioch, preach alike the facts of the Eedeemer's 



132 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



life and death. As to the Epistles, they were evidently not designed for primary instruc- 
tion, but for the further instruction of those who were familiar with the great outlines of 
the "mystery of godliness," (1 Tim. iii, 16,) and had professed their belief by baptism. 

We are then led to the inquiry, in what manner the synoptic Gospels are connected 
with the oral Gospel preached by the apostles? Before showing the relation of the writ- 
ten to the oral Gospel, we remind the reader that the Gospel history was first orally deliv- 
ered by the apostles at Jerusalem, where they formed the mother Church, and remained 
till dispersed by the first persecution. And is it not to be presumed that the very por- 
tions of that Gospel history, which form the common subject-matter of the synoptical 
Gospels, would be more frequently and fully dwelt upon by the apostles in their preach- 
ing at Jerusalem, than those incidents which had taken place there, and were therefore 
well known to those to whom the apostles first addressed themselves? This explains to 
us, in part, (compare the introductory remarks to § 8 in the Gospel of Matthew,) why 
it is that the ministry of Jesus in Galilee is almost exclusively recorded to us by the 
three Evangelists in a manner so singularly similar. There is nothing unnatural in the 
supposition that the oral narratives of the apostles at Jerusalem, concerning the words 
and deeds of our Lord, would be delivered, for the most part, in the same form of words; 
on the contrary, it was in the highest degree desirable for the teachers whom the apostles 
were sending forth into the world, and it became the most fitting means to secure and 
make manifest the purity of the subsequent written Gospel. The particular points, 
especially in sayings of Christ, were always reproduced; unusual expressions were the 
more firmly retained, since, when they were uttered, they had the more strongly attracted 
the attention of the disciples. Sermons and sayings were naturally retained with more 
care, and reported with more uniformity than incidents; although even in the latter, in the 
same degree that the incident was surprising and peculiar, a fixed type of narration had 
involuntarily formed itself. Thus it was that the authors had often heard the points, both 
of incidents and sayings, narrated in substantially the same words. There were, more- 
over, peculiar circumstances which naturally contributed to the uniformity in question. 
While modern taste aims at a variety of expression, and abhors a repetition of the same 
phrases as monotonous, the simplicity of the men, and their language, and their educa- 
tion, would all lead us to expect that the apostles would have no such feeling. They were 
from the humblest ranks of society in a nation destitute of polite literature. Their abil- 
ities and education were nearly alike. Their susceptibilities for apprehending the scenes 
they had witnessed were similar, while the poverty of the Aramaic Greek, in which they 
reported what they had seen and heard, did not admit of much variety. The first 
preachers aimed at fidelity and truth in their reports of the events they had witnessed, 
rather than at ornament. They had no wish to dress out their descriptions, even if they 
had been capable of doing so, and the genius of the dialect they employed had allowed 
a wider scope and variety. Besides, they had been accustomed, as Jews, to treasure up 
and hand down traditionally the interpretations of their fathers respecting the law, and 
must have been disposed to follow the same method in regard to the Christian religion. 
]STor would the immediate disciples desire to depart from the expressions they had learned 
from their instructors. On the contrary, they would studiously attach themselves to the 
form in which the Gospel narratives had orally been delivered to them. Such were the 
circumstances that contributed to produce and perpetuate a stereotype form of the Evan- 
gelical history, and to bring the oral narratives into an archetypal form, which was sub- 
sequently transferred to the written Gospels. It is supposed, then, that the preaching cf 
the apostles, and the teaching whereby they prepared others to preach, as they did, 
Avould tend to assume a common form, more or less fixed; and that the portions of the 
three Gospels which harmonize most exactly owe their agreement to the fact that the 
apostolic preaching had already clothed itself in a settled or usual form of words, to 
which the writers inclined to conform without feeling bound to do so; and the differ- 



THE ATTACKS OF MODERN CRITICISM ON THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS. 133 

ences which occur, often in the closest proximity to the harmonies, arise from the feeling 
of independence with which each wrote what he had seen and heard, or, in the case of 
Mark and Luke, from what apostolic witnesses had told them. But if the uniformity of 
the synoptic Gospels is ascribed to the oral narratives of the apostles, it may be asked why 
the accounts of the death and resurrection of Christ given in the three Gospels present so 
few correspondences compared with the other narratives? Was not this history of the 
highest interest and importance? Could it have failed to be repeated and dwelt upon? 
Should it not, therefore, have presented the most marked similarities in the historic 
cycle? Whence, then, arise the very great discrepancies running through the descrip- 
tion of this event in the four canonical Gospels? To this it may be answered, that 
these facts took place at Jerusalem, and were so well known that the apostles could insist 
upon them as indubitable facts without dwelling on the minor circumstances. And, as 
regards the resurrection, it is possible that the divergence arose from the intention of 
each Evangelist to contribute something toward the weight of evidence for this central 
truth. Accordingly, each of the four Evangelists mentions distinct acts and appearances 
of the Lord to establish that he was risen indeed. 

The supposition that the singular correspondence in matter and language, which 
exists among the first three Gospels, is to be attributed to the oral teaching of the 
apostles is strikingly confirmed by Luke, who, in his preface, expressly declares the 
information derived from the eye-witnesses of the ministry of Christ, that is, the oral 
narratives of the apostles, to be the only authentic source of his own Gospel, and of the 
other narratives that had been attempted. While Matthew, the apostle, committed to 
writing the narratives as he and the other apostles had been accustomed to communicate 
them orally, Mark and Luke, who derived their knowledge from the apostles, would 
record those narratives as they had heard them. There would, of course, be variations 
of language, and minor circumstances would be omitted or inserted, as it was orally 
related by different individuals, or by the same individual at different times. It is not 
probable that the apostles recited in a systematic series of discourses all the transactions 
of the ministry of Jesus related by any one of the first three Evangelists. According to 
the particular occasion presented, or the special object which they had in view, they 
would group together events, sayings, and discourses particularly adapted to their pur- 
pose. They would class their accounts of the life of Christ, but they did not narrate 
them chronologically. Thus we may account for the agreements and disagreements in 
the chronological arrangement of the Synoptists. 

As an objection to the foregoing explanation of the coincidence of language among 
the Synoptists, it has been urged as highly improbable that the apostles, whose native 
language was Hebrew, or rather its Aramaic dialect, would have addressed the Jews at 
Jerusalem in Greek. But we must remember that many Hellenists — Jews born and edu- 
cated in foreign countries, to whom the Greek was more familiar than the language of 
their own nation — dwelt in Jerusalem, or resorted thither during the great national 
feasts, and that the Greek was at the time so widely spread, (Josephus, Antiq., XVII, 
11, 4; Bell. Jud., Ill, 9, 1,) that most of the natives of Palestine were sufficiently 
acquainted with it. Though the apostles may, at first, have preached the Gospel at 
Jerusalem, more or less, in Aramaic, it is evident that the Greek language was soon sub- 
stituted; for it is certain that a considerable portion of the early Christians in Jerusalem 
was composed of Hellenists, (Acts vi, 1;) with Hellenists Paul disputed after his conver- 
sion, (Acts ix, 29;) we find mention of various synagogues in that city of foreign Jews 
who associated together according to the countries from which they came, (Acts vi, 9.) 
As the Hellenists, with the converts from Greek Gentiles, soon outnumbered the Chris- 
tians of Palestine, the Greek language was opted as the regular medium of the Church 
to promulgate the Gospel. That this could be done even in Jerusalem without provoking 
popular prejudice, appears from the circumstance that, when Paul spoke in Hebrew, 



134 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



(Acts xxii, 2,) it was unexpected, and produced unusual attention. From this the infer- 
ence may be drawn, that public addresses were commonly made in Greek. 

It is now generally admitted that the oral teaching of the apostles was the archetype, 
the original source of the common parts of the synoptic Gospels; but, at the same time 
it has been considered as not of itself sufficient to account for all the phenomena which 
they present, without assuming the existence of some written documents embodying por- 
tions of that oral teaching, such as Luke refers to. Of this opinion is Alford, who says: 
"I believe that the apostles, in virtue not merely of their having been eye and ear-wit- 
nesses of the Evangelical history, but especially in virtue of their office, gave to the vari- 
ous Churches their testimony in a narrative of facts; such narrative being modified in 
each case by the individual mind of the apostle himself, and his sense of what was 
requisite for the particular community to which he was ministering. While they were 
principally together, and instructing the converts at Jerusalem, such narrative would 
naturally be for the most part the same, and expressed in the same, or nearly the same 
words; coincident, however, not from design or rule, but because the things themselves were 
the same, and the teaching naturally fell for the most part into one form. It would be 
easy and interesting to follow the probable origin and growth of this cycle of narratives 
of the words and deeds of our Lord in the Church at Jerusalem — for both the Jews and 
the Hellenists — the latter under such teachers as Philip and Stephen, commissioned and 
authenticated by the apostles. In the course of such a process some portions would natu- 
rally be written down by private believers for their own use or that of friends. And as 
the Church spread to Samaria, Caesarea, and Antioch, the want would be felt, in each of 
these places, of similar cycles of oral teaching, which, when supplied, would thencefor- 
ward belong to and be current in those respective Churches. And these portions of the 
Evangelic history, oral or partially documentary, would be adopted under the sanction of the 
apostles, who were as in all things, so especially in this, the appointed and Divinely- 
guided overseers of the whole Church. This common substratum of apostolic teaching, I 
believe to have been the original source of the common part of our three Gospels. . . . De- 
livered, usually, in the same or similar terms to the catechumens in the various Churches, 
and becoming the text of instruction for their pastors and teachers, it by degrees under- 
went those modifications which the various Gospels now present to us. And I am not 
now speaking of any considerable length of time, such as might suffice to deteriorate and 
corrupt mere traditional teaching, but of no more than the transmission through men apos- 
tolic, or almost apostolic, yet of independent habits of speech and thought, of an account which 
remained in substance the same. Let us imagine the modifications which the individual 
memory, brooding affectionately and reverently over each word and act of our Lord, 
would introduce into a narrative in relating it variously and under differing circum- 
stances; the Holy Spirit, who brought to their remembrance whatever things he had said 
to them, (John xiv, 26,) working in and distributing to each severally as he would; let us 
place to the account the various little changes of transposition or omission, of variation 
in diction or emphasis, which would be sure to arise in the freedom of individual teach- 
ing, and we have, I believe, the only reasonable solution of the arbitrary and otherwise 
unaccountable coincidences and discrepancies in these parts of our Gospels." 

§ 33. A Consideration of the Inspired Character of the Synoptical Gospels, on 

the Ground of their being chiefly the Result of the 

Oral Teaching of the Apostles. 

It is a postulate of reason to assume that, if the Author and Object of our Christian 
faith was, as is historically proved, God manifest in the flesh, the Son of man in whom 
dwelt the fullness of the Godhead bodily, this fact involves another fact; namely, that the 
records of his life, his discourses, and acts were written under Divine direction and pre- 



THE ATTACKS OF MODERN CRITICISM ON THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS. 135 

served to us by Divine Providence. That they were written under Divine direction, or 
by inspiration, is, moreover, a necessary inference from the promise of the gift of the 
Holy Spirit, given by Christ to his apostles in connection with their commission to preach 
the Gospel to all the world, and to build up his Church. 

It was at their first mission (Matt, x) that Christ referred his apostles to the assistance 
of the Holy Spirit in certain emergencies of their apostolical calling; namely, when they 
should be called upon to give an account of their doctrine and ministry. In such cases 
he would teach them what and how they should speak, (Luke xii, 11, 12;) yea, their 
Father's Spirit would speak in them, (Matt, x, 19, 20.) It was in his last conversations 
with them, preparatory to the time when they should carry on his work on earth with- 
out his personal presence, that he promised them the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, who 
should not only bring his teaching to their remembrance, but complete it, and guide 
them into all truth, even into those truths which they could, as yet, not bear. (John 
xiv-xvi.) Announcing to them after his resurrection their future mission in the words, 
"As my Father has sent me, even so send I you/' and granting them the power to forgive 
and retain sins, he breathed upon them— an act emblematical of the Holy Ghost, which 
they were to receive, (John xx, 21-23;) but while instructed to become his witnesses in 
Jerusalem, in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth, they are commanded to 
tarry at Jerusalem till they should be endued with the Spirit from on high. (Luke xxiv, 
49; Acts i, 8.) This promise was fulfilled to its whole extent on the day of Pentecost, 
and from this day we see the hitherto timid apostles engage in the public preaching of 
the Gospel with power and success through the Holy Ghost, that had been sent them 
from heaven. (Acts ii, 33; 1 Peter i, 12.) To the Holy Ghost they ascribe their doc- 
trines and precepts. (Acts xv, 28; v, 3, 4; 1 Cor. xiv, 37; Eph. iii, 5; 1 Thess. ii, 13; 
iv, 8.) They claim (1 Cor. ii) that they do not speak in human wisdom and skill, but in 
a higher wisdom given unto them from God, through his Spirit, that searches all things, 
(v. 10;) that the Holy Ghost imparts unto them a knowledge which is altogether foreign 
to the world and the natural man, (vs. 8, 14.) being part of that knowledge with which 
God knoweth himself, (vs. 11, 12,) but by which they are enabled to know the mind of 
the Lord as such that have the mind of Christ, (v. 16 ;) that what they know in this way 
they speak not in words which human wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost 
teacheth, (v. 13,) comparing spiritual things with spiritual. For this very reason the 
apostles place themselves not only on an equal footing with, but even above " the proph- 
ets," the sacred writers of the Old Testament. (2 Peter iii, 2; Pom. xvi, 25, 26; 1 Cor. 
xii, 28; Eph. iv, 11; ii, 20.) 

From all this we learn two truths: First, that the men chosen by Christ for the 
preaching of his Gospel acted, both in their oral teachings and in their writings, not in 
the capacity of merely-human witnesses, but that their testimony was united with that 
of the Holy Ghost, (John xv, 26, 27;) secondly, that the Spirit promised and given by 
Christ personally to the eleven had reference not so much to them individually, but to 
the apostolical office and all its functions, as we clearly see in the case of the apostle Paul, 
inclusive of those assistants in their work whom the Lord raised up, and who were also 
partakers of the gifts of the Holy Ghost. 

The Holy Ghost must be conceived of as the Agent, who begets, guides, and governs 
the Church. In this capacity he is Christ's representative on earth. For this very 
reason it was necessary that he should preeminently manifest his power in those who 
were to be the chief organs through which the new life was to flow from the head into 
the whole body ; that is, in those who were, to use Paul's expression, the apostles of Jesus 
Christ by the will of God. But from the relation of the Holy Ghost to the apostolic office 
we learn, also, why we may place the writings of the Evangelists, Mark and Luke, on an 
equal footing with those of the apostles, and consider them as inspired. We need not attach 
much importance to the tradition that they belonged to the seventy whom Jesus first 



136 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



sent forth to preach in Judea, or to the one hundred and twenty disciples on whom the 
Holy Ghost fell on the day of Pentecost. It is enough to know that the apostles had 
received the power to impart the gift of the Holy Spirit by the imposition of their hands, 
and that they made use of this power. (Acts viii, 14-17; xix, 6.) Are we, then, not 
authorized to take it for granted that Mark and Luke, whom Peter and Paul had chosen 
for their special co-workers out of the great number of Evangelists whom the Lord had 
already raised up from among Jews and Gentiles, received through the apostles the gift 
of the Holy Spirit necessary to give to the Church an inspired record of the discourses 
and acts of the Lord? Besides, though they had not been eye and ear-witnesses of the 
life and ministry of Christ, yet they were the companions of those that had been eye- 
witnesses, and they heard continually from their lips the sayings and doings of Christ, 
having the best opportunity to obtain the fullest information. Again, though they had 
not been commissioned by Christ himself to teach the nations and to feed his lambs, yet 
they had been made by the apostles their partners and fellow-laborers for the kingdom 
of God, (2 Cor. viii, 23; 1 Thess. iii, 2; Philem., 24;) they were engaged in the same 
work of the Lord as the apostles, (1 Cor. xvi, 10,) and had to perform apostolical func- 
tions, (Titus i, 5; 2 Tim. iv, 1-5.) Although they did not plant, yet they did water; 
although they did not lay the foundation, yet they built upon it, and have transmitted to 
us records of unadulterated truth through the same Spirit that was also in them, (2 Tim. 
i, 14,) and we have to honor them next to the apostles as the Divine instruments in the 
building up of his Church, and as stewards of the mysteries of God, (1 Cor. iv, 1.) 
Lastly, it must not be forgotten that the Gospels of Mark and Luke, having been writ- 
ten, if not before the death of Peter and Paul, at least before that of the apostle John, 
must have had the sanction of at least one of the apostles whom the Head of the Church 
had authorized to bind and to loose. 

But the important question arises: In what sense, or to what extent were the historical 
books of the New Testament inspired, especially the records of the two Evangelists who 
were not themselves apostles? There has been much unnecessary controversy on the def- 
inition of the term "inspiration;" different modes and degrees of inspiration have been 
assumed. The most important distinction appears to us that between inspiration and revela- 
tion: two terms which, though totally different, are often used as synonyms. Revelation is a 
purely -Divine act — it is God revealing himself to man, either by supernatural, external facts, 
such as the miracles recorded in Scripture, or by supernatural, internal communications, 
such as when the Spirit of God imparts to man the infallible foreknowledge of future 
events, or reveals to him doctrines which lie beyond the reach of human reason. In the 
reception of such a supernatural, internal communication, the human mind is perfectly 
passive, not thinking its own thoughts, or speaking its own words, but only the thoughts 
and words of the Spirit of God. Not so in inspiration. That demands human as well as 
Divine agency. The Spirit of God in inspiration acts not simply on man but through man, 
using the faculties of man according to their natural law. God, who gives the message, 
selects also the messenger, so that the traits of individual character and the peculiarities 
of manner and purpose, which are displayed in the composition and language of the 
sacred writings, are essential to the perfect exhibition of their meaning. By inspiration 
the human mind is enabled correctly to apprehend, and then authentically and authori- 
tatively to make known, orally or in writing, a revelation which God has given of him- 
self. The duty and qualification authentically and authoritatively to make known a 
self-revealing act of God is evidently to be distinguished from that Divine act. This dis- 
tinction is overlooked when it is assumed that, in recording the facts of revelation, the 
sacred writers wrote down every word just as it was dictated to them by the Holy Ghost, 
in the same manner in which God revealed to the prophets future events. This is what 
is called verbal inspiration in the strict sense of the word ; but the term itself, as we have 
Been, is a misnomer — it would be revelation, not inspiration. Such Divine influence as 



THE ATTACKS OF MODERN CRITICISM ON THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS. 137 

takes place in revelation was not needed for an authentic and authoritative record of 
revelation, nor do the Evangelists claim it; nor would it have been in accordance with 
Divine "Wisdom to have excluded human agency in the communication of his revelation. 
The very evidences, for instance, of this human agency, which the apparent or trifling 
discrepancies in the statements of the different Evangelists present, answer a wise pur- 
pose; they convince us that they were independent witnesses, and that the whole story 
did not arise from some well-concerted plan to deceive the world; the homely style of 
some of the writers proves to us that they were really fishermen, and not philosophers; 
thus we have a convincing evidence that the deepest system of theology, and the noblest 
code of ethics ever propounded — the one stirring the depth of the whole human heart, 
the other guiding all human life — came, not from the profound speculations of the wisest 
of mankind, but either from God himself, or else from a source more inexplicable and 
absolutely impossible. The theory of what is called verbal inspiration, on the contrary, 
far from being essential to the Divine authority of the Gospel records, is, indeed, as we 
shall further show, the only ground on which an objection can be brought against their 
claim of being authentic and authoritative records of a Divine revelation; and though 
this theory of verbal inspiration has been received as if it were tantamount to plenary 
inspiration, it rests on no Scripture authority and is supported by no historical testimony, 
if we except a few ambiguous metaphors of the Fathers. "Much might be said," says 
Alford, in his Prolegomena to the Gospels, "of the a priori un worthiness of such a 
theory, as applied to a Gospel whose character is the freedom of the spirit, not the bond- 
age of the letter; but it belongs more to my present work to try it by applying it to the 
Gospels as we have them. And I do not hesitate to say, that, being thus applied, its 
effects will be to destroy the credibility of our Evangelists. Hardly a single instance of 
parallelism between them arises where they do not relate the same thing, indeed, in sub- 
stance, but expressed in terms which, if literally taken, are incompatible with each other. 
To cite only one obvious instance : The title over the cross was written in Greek. Ac- 
cording, then, to the verbal-inspiration theory, each Evangelist has recorded the exact 
words of the inscription; not the general sense, but the inscription itself — not a letter less or 
more. This is absolutely necessary to the theory. Its advocates must not be allowed, 
with convenient inconsistency, to take refuge in a common-sense view of the matter 
wherever their theory fails them, and still to uphold it in the main. Another objection 
to the theory is, if it be so, the Christian world is left in uncertainty what her Scriptures 
are, as long as the sacred text is full of various readings. Some one manuscript must be 
pointed out to us which carries the weight of verbal inspiration, or some text whose 
authority shall be undoubted must be promulgated. But manifestly neither of these 
things can ever happen. The fact is, that this theory uniformly gives way before an 
intelligent study of the Scriptures themselves; and is only held, consistently and thor- 
oughly, by those who never have undertaken that study. When put forth by those who 
have, it is never carried fairly through; but while broadly asserted, is in detail abandoned." 

Verbal inspiration, in the sense explained, is utterly irreconcilable with the peculiar 
coincidences and differences which the compositions of the Synoptists present; but, in 
rejecting the verbal dictation of the Gospel records, we are far from calling in question 
their "plenary inspiration." By plenary inspiration we mean such an influence of the 
Holy Spirit on the minds of the Evangelists as prevented them from expressing an error 
or untruth, in any thing essential to the Divine revelation, of which they were to give 
an authentic and authoritative record, both with regard to its facts and the doctrines 
involved in them — yet, so that, on the one hand, the human element was not neutralized 
by the Divine agency, and, on the other hand, the truth of God remained unimpaired by 
the individual mind. The relation of the human to the Divine element in the inspired 
writings is very beautifully and cautiously set forth by Mr. Elliott, (Aids to Faith, page 
479:) "As in the case of the Incarnate Word, we fully recognize in the Lord's humanity 



138 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



all essentially-human limitations and weaknesses — the hunger, the thirst, and the weari- 
ness on the side of the body, and the gradual development on the side of the human 
mind — in a word, all that belongs to the essential and original characteristics of the pure 
form of the nature he vouchsafed to assume, but plainly deny the existence therein of the 
faintest trace of sin, or of moral or mental imperfection — even so in the case of the writ- 
ten Word, viewed on its purely-human side, and in its reference to matters previously 
admitted to have no bearing on Divine Truth, we may admit therein the existence of such 
incompleteness, such limitations, and such imperfections as belong even to the highest 
forms of purely -truthful human testimony, but consistently deny the existence of mis- 
taken views, perversion, misrepresentation, and any form whatever of consciously-com- 
mitted error or inaccuracy." 

Plenary inspiration, then, properly understood, does not forbid the Evangelists to 
draw from natural sources of information, as Luke, in the preface to his Gospel expressly 
asserts to have done, or to quote from other inspired writers without giving their words 
literatim, and according to their individuality to differ from each other in the selection, 
in the manner and in the arrangement of the events which they relate, nor is it incon- 
sistent even with inaccuracies in matters which all agree in regarding as wholly unim- 
portant, which have no reference to the purpose of their writings, to give an authentic 
and authoritative record of Divine revelation. Such alleged inaccuracies have not yet 
been incontestably proved; but even if we admit their existence, they are, like some 
alleged contradictions, (see § 21,) due either to our ignorance of some simple fact, which, 
if known, would explain all; or they furnish only an illustration of one of those very 
conditions and characteristics of human testimony, however honest and truthful, without 
which it would cease to be human testimony at all. Moreover, there is no need of 
ascribing to the insjnred writers a perfect knowledge of geography, profane history, 
science, etc.; it is sufficient for their inspired character to maintain that whatever they 
affirm to be true, if it has the remotest reference to religion, is the truth, the whole truth, 
and nothing but the truth, and that they never declare any thing to be scientifically true 
that is scientifically false. This is a point which concerns not so much the Evangelists as 
the other inspired writers, especially of the Old Testament; yet, as it is a vital point in 
the question of inspiration, we may dwell on it for a moment. Though the writers of the 
Old Testament, compared with the most enlightened sages of heathen antiquity, show a 
superior knowledge of physical science, which nothing short of Divine inspiration can 
account for; and though recent discussions of the subjects of controversy by men of 
acknowledged scientific attainments have tended to show that the oppositions of Scrij)- 
ture and of science are far more doubtful than they are assumed to be ; yet — even if the 
charge of error in matters of human knowledge should be substantiated against any of 
the sacred writers — this would not militate against their plenary insjiuration for the jmr- 
pose of giving us an infallible depository of religious truth. Scripture was not given to 
teach us science; it was, therefore, not needful to render the sacred writers infallible in 
matters of science. 

Alford, who arrives, as we have shown, at substantially the same results with regard 
to the origin of the synoptical Gospels we have tried to reach, lays down the following 
propositions respecting their inspiration, which are in full harmony with the definition 
of inspiration given above, and may serve as a summary of our whole investigation: 

"1. The results of our inquiries may be thus stated: That our three Gospels have 
arisen independently of one another from sources of information possessed by the Evan- 
gelists; such sources of information, for a very considerable part of their contents, being 
the narrative teaching of the apostles; and in cases where their personal testimony was 
out of the question, oral or documentary narratives, preserved in and received by the 
Christian Church in the apostolic age; that the three Gospels are not formal, complete 
accounts of the whole incidents of the sacred history, but each of them fragmentary, 



THE ATTACKS OF MODERN CRITICISM ON THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS. 139 

containing such portions of it as fell within the notice, or the special design, of the 
Evangelist. 

"2. The important question now conies before us: In what sense are the Evangelists to 
be regarded as having been inspired by the Holy Spirit of God? That they were so, in some 
sense, has been the concurrent belief of the Christian body in all ages. In the second, as 
in the nineteenth century, the ultimate appeal in matters of fact and doctrine has been to 
these venerable writings. It may be well, then, first to inquire on what grounds their 
authority has been rated so high by all Christians? 

"3. And I believe the answer to this question will be found to be: Because they are 
regarded as authentic documents, descending from the apostolic age, and presenting to us the 
substance of the apostolic testimony. The apostles being raised up for the special purpose 
of witnessing to the Gospel history, and these memoirs having been universally received in 
the early Church as embodying their testimony, I see no escape left from the inference 
that they come to us with inspired authority. The apostles themselves, and their co tem- 
poraries in the ministry of the Word, were singularly endowed with the Holy Spirit for 
the founding and teaching of the Church; and Christians of all ages have accepted the 
Gospels and other writings of the New Testament as the written result of the Pentecostal 
effusion. The early Church was not likely to be deceived in this matter. The reception 
of the Gospels was immediate and universal. They never were placed for a moment, by 
the consent of the Christians, in the same category with the spurious documents which 
soon sprang up after them. In external history, as in internal character, they differ 
entirely from the apocryphal Gospels; which, though in some cases bearing the name 
and pretending to contain the teaching of an apostle, were never recognized as apostolic. 

"4. Upon the authenticity, that is, the apostolicity of our Gospels, rests their claim to 
inspiration. Containing the substance of the apostles' testimony, they carry with them 
that special power of the Holy Spirit which rested on the apostles in virtue of their 
office, and also on other teachers and preachers of the first age. It may be well, then, to 
inquire of what kind that power was, and how far extending. 

"5. "We do not find the apostles transformed, from being men of individual character, 
and thought, and feeling, into mere channels for the transmission of infallible truth; we 
find them, humanly speaking, to have been still distinguished by the same characteristics 
as before the descent of the Holy Ghost. We see Peter still ardent and impetuous, still 
shrinking from the danger of human disapproval; we see John still exhibiting the same 
union of deep love and burning zeal; we find them pursuing different paths of teaching, 
exhibiting different styles of writing, taking hold of the truth from different sides. 

"6. Again, we do not find the apostles put in possession at once of the Divine counsel 
with regard to the Church. Though Peter and John were full of the Holy Ghost immedi- 
ately after the ascension, neither at that time, nor for many years afterward, were they 
put in possession of the purpose of God regarding the Gentiles, which in due time was 
specially revealed to Peter, and recognized in the apostolic council at Jerusalem. 

"7. These considerations serve to show us in what respects the working of the Holy 
Spirit on the sacred writers was analogous to his influence on every believer in Christ; 
namely, in the retention of individual character, and thought, and feeling, and in the 
gradual development of the ways and purposes of God to their minds. 

"8. But their situation and office was peculiar and unexampled. And for its fulfill- 
ment peculiar and unexampled gifts were bestowed upon them. One of these, which 
bears very closely upon our present subject, was the recalling by the Holy Spirit of those 
things which the Lord had said to them. This was his own formal promise, recorded in 
John xiv, 26. And, if we look at our present Gospels, we see abundant evidence of its 
fulfillment. What unassisted human memory could treasure up sayings and parables, 
however deep the impression at the time, and report them in full at the distance of sev- 
eral years, as we find them reported, with every internal mark of truthfulness in our 



140 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



Gospels? What invention of man could have devised discourses which, by common con- 
sent, differ from all sayings of men — which possess this character unaltered, notwith- 
standing their transmission through men of various mental organization— which contain 
things impossible to be understood or appreciated by their reporters at the time when 
they profess to have been uttered — which inwrap the seeds of all human improvement 
yet attained, and are evidently full of power for more? I refer to this latter alternative 
only to remark, that all considerations, whether of the apostles' external circumstances, 
or their internal feelings respecting Him of whom they bore witness, combine to confirm 
the persuasion of Christians that they have recorded as said by our Lord what he truly 
did say, and not any words of their own imagination. 

" 9. And let us pursue the matter further by analogy. Can we suppose that the light 
poured by the Holy Spirit upon the sayings of our Lord would be confined to such say- 
ings, and not extend itself over the other parts of the narratives of his life on earth? 
Can we believe that those miracles, which, though not uttered in words, were yet acted 
parables, would not be, under the same gracious assistance, brought back to the minds 
of the apostles, so that they should be placed on record for the teaching of the Church? 

" 10. And, going yet further, to those parts of the Gospels which were wholly out of 
the cycle of the apostles' own testimony, can we imagine that the Divine discrimination 
which enabled them to detect the ' lie to the Holy Ghost,' should have forsaken them in 
judging of the records of our Lord's birth and infancy, so that they should have taught 
or sanctioned an apocryphal, fabulous, or mythical account of such matters ? Some ac- 
count of them must have been current in the apostolic circle ; for Mary, the mother of 
Jesus, survived the ascension, and would be fully capable of giving undoubted testimony 
to the facts. Can we conceive, then, that, with her among them, the apostles should have 
delivered other than a true history of these things ? Can we suppose that Luke's ac- 
count, which he includes among the things delivered by those who were eye-witnesses and 
ministers of the Word from the first, is other than the true one, and stamped with the 
authority of the witnessing and discriminating Spirit dwelling in the apostles? Can we 
suppose that the account in the still more immediately-apostolic Gospel of Matthew is 
other than the history seen from a different side, and independently narrated ? 

"11. But if it be inquired how far such Divine superintendence has extended in the 
framing of our Gospels as we at present find them, the answer must be furnished by no 
preconceived idea of what ought to have been, but by the contents of the Gospels them- 
selves. That those contents are various, and variously arranged, is token enough that in their 
selection and disposition we have human agency presented to us, under no more direct 
guidance, in this respect, than that general leading which, in main and essential points, 
should insure entire accordance. Such leading admits of much variety in points of minor 
consequence. Two men may be equally led by the Holy Spirit to record the events of 
our Lord's life for our edification, though one may believe and record that the visit to the 
Gadarenes took place before the calling of Matthew, while the other places it after that 
event; though one, in narrating it, speaks of two demoniacs — the other only of one. 

"12. And it is observable that in the only place in the three Gospels where an Evan- 
gelist speaks of himself, he expressly lays claim, not to any supernatural guidance in the 
arrangement of his subject-matter, but to a diligent tracing down of all things from 
the first; in other words, to the care and accuracy of a faithful and honest compiler. 
After such an avowal on the part of the writer himself, to assert an immediate revelation 
to him of the arrangement to be adopted and the chronological notices to be given, is clearly 
not justified, according to his own showing and assertion. The value of such arrange- 
ment and chronological connection must depend on various circumstances in each case; 
on their definiteness and consistency; on their agreement or disagreement with the other 
extant records; the preference being, in each case, given to that one whose account is the 
most minute in details, and whose notes of sequence are the most distinct. 



THE ATTACKS OF MODERN CRITICISM ON THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS. 141 

"13. In thus speaking, I am doing no more than even the most scrupulous of our har- 
monizers have, in fact, done. In the case alluded to in paragraph 11, there is not one of 
them who has not altered the arrangement, either of Matthew or of Mark and Luke, so as to 
bring the visit to the Gadarenes into the same part of the Evangelic history. But if the 
arrangement itself were matter of Divine inspiration, then have we no right to vary it in the 
slightest degree, but must maintain — as the harmonists have done in other cases, but 
never, as I am aware, in this — two distinct visits to have been made at different times, and 
nearly the same events to have occurred at both. I need hardly add that a similar method of 
proceeding with all the variations in the Gospels, which would on this supposition be neces- 
sary, would render the Scripture narrative a heap of improbabilities, and strengthen, 
instead of weakening, the cause of the enemies of our faith. 

"14. And not only of the arrangement of the Evangelic history are these remarks to 
be understood. There are certain minor points of accuracy or inaccuracy, of which 
human research suffices to inform men, and on which, from want of that research, it is 
often the practice to speak vaguely and inexactly. Such are sometimes the convention- 
ally-received distances from place to place; such are the common accounts of phenomena 
in natural history, etc. Now, in matters of this kind, the Evangelists and apostles were 
not supernaturally informed, but left, in common with others, to the guidance of their 
natural faculties. 

" 15. The same may be said of citations and dates from history. In the last apology 
of Stephen — which he spoke, being full of the Holy Ghost, and with Divine influence 
beaming: from his countenance — we have at least two demonstrable historical inaccura- 
cies. And the occurrence of similar ones in the Gospels does not in any way affect the 
inspiration or the veracity of the Evangelists. 

"16. It may be well to mention one notable illustration of the principles upheld in 
this section. What can be more undoubted and unanimous than the testimony of the 
Evangelists to the resurrection of the Lord? If there be one fact rather than another of 
which the apostles were witnesses, it was this; and in the concurrent narratives of all 
four Evangelists it stands related beyond all cavil or question. Yet, of all the events 
which they have described, none is so variously put forth in detail, or with so many minor 
discrepancies. And this was just what might have been expected on the principles above 
laid down. The great fact that the Lord was risen — set forth by the ocular witness of the 
apostles, who had seen him — became from that day first in importance in the delivery of 
their testimony. The precise order of his appearances would naturally, from the over- 
whelming nature of their present emotions, be a matter of minor consequence, and per- 
haps not even of accurate inquiry till some time had passed. Then, with the utmost 
desire on the part of the women and apostles to collect the events in their exact order of 
time, some confusion would be apparent in the history, and some discrepancies in versions 
of it which were the results of separate and independent inquiries; the traces of which 
pervade our present accounts. But what fair-judging student of the Gospel ever made 
these variations or discrepancies a ground for doubting the veracity of the Evangelists 
as to the fact of the resurrection, or the principal details of the Lord's appearances after 
it?" (Alford's Prolegomena to the Greek Testament, Ch. I, Sec. 6.) 



142 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



PART Y. 

PRELIMINARY REMARKS ON" THE GOSPEL HISTORY. 



§ 34. The Condition of the "World, Jewish, Greek, and Roman, at the Advent 

of Jesus Christ. 

Christ being "the center and turning-point, as well as key of all history," it seems 
to us not out of place, in an Introduction to the Gospels, to glance at the preparation 
which existed in the moral and religious condition of the world for the appearance of the 
Eedeemer on earth. Upon this process of preparation Neander, the father of modern 
Church history,* threw more light than any of his predecessors; and, upon the founda- 
tion which he had laid, his worthy successors, Guericke, Kurtz, Jacobi, and Schaff, built 
their deeply-interesting researches. The most lucid as well as comprehensive discussion 
of this subject we find in Dr. Schaff' s Church History, and quote, therefore, from him, 
with some modification and abridgment, and with the exception of what is said "on the 
moral and religious state of the pagan world among the Greeks and Eomans," on which 
we have preferred the statement of Guericke. 

"With the incarnation of the Son of God commences, and on it rests, the fullness of 
time. (Gal. iv, 4.) It is the end of the old world, and the beginning of the new, which 
is dated from his birth. The entire development of humanity, especially of the religious 
ideas of all nations, before the birth of Christ, must be viewed as an introduction to this 
great event. The preparation for it began indeed with the very creation of man, who 
was made in the image of God, and destined for communion with him through the eter- 
nal Son, and with the promise of deliverance by the seed of the woman, some vague 
memories of which promise survived in the heathen religions. With the call of Abra- 
ham, some two thousand years before the birth of Christ, the religious development of 
humanity separates into two independent and antagonistic lines, Judaism and heathen- 
ism. In the former the development was influenced and directed by a continuous course 
of Divine cooperation; in the latter it was left to the unaided powers and capacities of 
man. These two parallel lines continued side by side with each other till, in the fullness 
of time, they merged in Christianity, which they were mutually to serve by their appro- 
priate fruits, and results, and respectively-peculiar developments; but with which, also, 
the ungodly elements of both would enter into a deadly conflict. As Christianity is the 
reconciliation and union of God and man in and through Jesus Christ, the God-man and 
Savior, it must have been preceded by a twofold process of preparation— an approach of 
God to man, and an approach of man to God. In Judaism the preparation is direct and 

*"By birth and early training an Israelite, and a genuine Nathanael too, full of childlike simplicity and of 
longings for the Messianic salvation — in youth an enthusiastic student of Grecian philosophy, particularly of Plato, 
who became for him a scientific schoolmaster to bring him to Christ — he had, when in his seventeenth year he received 
Christian baptism, passed through in his own inward experience, so to speak, the whole historical course by which 
the world had been prepared for Christianity; he had gained an experimental knowledge of the workings of Judaism 
and heathenism in their direct tendency toward Christianity; and thus he had already broken his own way to the 
only proper position for contemplating the history of the Church — a position whence Jesus Christ is viewed as the 
object of the deepest yearnings of humanity, the center of all history, and the only key to its mysterious sense." 
'Dr. Schaff 's History of the Apostolic Church, p. 96.) 



PRELIMINARY REMARKS ON THE GOSPEL HISTORY. 143 

positive, proceeding from above downward, and ending with the birth of the Messiah. 
In heathenism it is indirect, and mainly, though not entirely, negative, proceeding from 
below upward, and ending with a helpless cry of mankind for redemption. There wo 
have a special revelation or self-communication of the only true God by word and deed, 
ever growing clearer and plainer, till at last the Divine nature appears in the human to 
raise it to communion with itself; here man, guided indeed by the general providence of 
God, and lighted by the glimmer of the Logos shining in the darkness, (John i, 5,) yet 
unaided by direct revelation, and left to his own ways, (Acts xiv, 16,) if haply he might 
feel after the Lord and find him. In Judaism the true religion was prepared for man- 
kind, and in heathenism mankind was prepared for its reception. There the Divine 
substance is begotten ; here the human forms are molded to receive it. The former is 
like the elder son in the parable, who abode in his father's house; the latter like the 
prodigal, who squandered his portion, yet at last shuddered before the gaping abyss of 
perdition, and penitently returned to the bosom of his father's compassionate love. The 
flower of paganism appears in the two great nations of classic antiquity, Greece and 
Rome. With the language, morality, literature, and religion of these nations Christian- 
ity came directly into contact. These, together with the Jews, were the chosen nations 
of the ancient world, and shared the earth among them. While the Jews were chosen 
for things eternal, to keep the sanctuary of the true religion, the Greeks prepared the 
elements of natural culture, of science and art for the use of the Church, and the Romans 
developed the idea of law, and organized the civilized world in a universal empire, ready 
to serve the spiritual universality of the Gospel. On the one hand God endowed the 
Greeks and Romans with the richest natural gifts, that they might reach the highest civ- 
ilization possible without the aid of Christianity, and thus both provide the instruments 
of human science, art, and law for the use of the Christian Church, and yet at the same 
time show the utter impotence of these alone to bless and save the world. On the other 
hand, the universal empire of Rome was a positive groundwork for the universal empire 
of the Gospel. It served as a crucible, in which all contradictory and irreconcilable 
peculiarities of the ancient nations and religions were dissolved into the chaos of the new 
creation. The Roman legions razed the partition-walls among the ancient nations, 
brought the extremes of the civilized world together in free intercourse, and united 
North and South, and East and West in the bonds of a common language and culture, 
of common laws and customs. Thus they evidently, though unconsciously, opened the 
way for the rapid and general spread of that religion which unites all nations in one 
family of God by the spiritual bond of faith and love. In addition to this general sur- 
vey, let us consider more particularly: 

1. The moral and religious state of the pagan -world among the Greeks and Momans. The 
religious ideas that lie at the bottom of all pagan religions sprang originally from Divine 
revelation, either internal or external. Having been darkened by human apostasy, they 
could not, however, in the distorted form which they assumed in heathenism, avail to 
check even the grossest manifestations of unbelief and superstition. Resting upon 
myths and the vague intimations and feelings of the human soul, the ancient popular relig- 
ion of the Greeks and Momans, in particular, naturally came in conflict with the increasing 
education and refinement of these highly-civilized nations, but could not vanquish the 
skepticism that was engendered thereby. Hence, notwithstanding the efforts of the Gov- 
ernment and the patriotic citizen to prop up the declining State religion, an utter disbe- 
lief in every thing religious and Divine gradually spread among the cultivated and noble 
classes, and passed over from them into the mass of society, bringing with it a dreadful 
corruption of morals and manners. A species of philosophy that set up pleasure as the 
highest good, and wholly denied the reality of any objective truth, became the prevalent 
mode of thinking, and if here and there a man of more earnest religious temper felt con- 
strained to resist the godless spirit of his age in its extreme forms, yet religion even for 



144 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



him lost its vitality, and God himself became the product of the human understanding. 
But on the other hand, this very unbelief, groping about in vain for a satisfying object, 
carried the germ of a reaction. Many, with a sense of inward emptiness and a dim inti- 
mation of a higher world, despairing of any satisfaction from the various conflicting 
philosophical systems, yearned after the old religion of their fathers, and boldly grasped 
it again with glowing zeal, and the "barbaric" religions of Asia and Egypt were brought 
in to impart a new decoration and interest to the effete ancestral system, and amulets, 
talismans, and magicians found a welcome reception. Such was the general state of the 
religion of the Greeks and Eomans at the time of the advent of the Eedeemer. Eecklesa 
infidelity and horrible superstition, both alike fostered by the reigning dissoluteness of 
morals, contended for the mastery, and the great mass of the people lay sunk in absolute 
godlessness. 

A deeper religious need was awakened in some few minds, and these sought satisfaction 
in the two better philosophical systems of the time; neither of which, however, was fitted 
to meet this immortal longing of the heart. The Stoic philosophy, through its ideal of a 
perfect virtue, could indeed flare a clearer light over the prevailing corruption of morals, 
but could give no disclosures respecting the unseen world and man's future relations 
to God. Stoicism, moreover, left its disciples to the isolated strain of their own wills. 
Blindly and coldly they subjected themselves, for life or for death, to the unalterable law 
of the universe ; to despise pleasure and pain, and, in case of necessity, to put an end to 
an existence which had missed its aim — such was the climax of their wisdom. The prin- 
ciples of Platonism did not, indeed, minister to the self-reliant pride of human nature. 
On the contrary, they tended to produce the sense of dependence upon a higher Eower, 
and to lead men to seek communion therewith, as the only source of enlightenment and 
moral excellence. But they could only teach them to seek, not to find. This consumma- 
tion could be effected only by a mediator who "was come from God and went to God." 
Platonism, in thus hinting at a perfect religion that was itself the substance, while all 
others were the shadows, and in spiritualizing the popular religions of the time, dimly 
looked toward Christianity. 

We have to survey, 2. The religious condition of the Jewish people. This wonderful 
people was chosen by Sovereign Grace to stand amid the surrounding idolatry as the 
bearer of the knowledge of Jehovah, the only true God, of his holy law, and of his com- 
forting promise, and thus to become the cradle of the Messiah. It arose with the calling 
of Abraham, and the covenant of Jehovah with him in Canaan, the land of promise ; grew 
to a nation in Egypt, the land of bondage; was delivered, and organized into a theocratic 
State, on the basis of the law of -Sinai, by Moses in the wilderness; was led back into 
Palestine by Joshua; became, after the Judges, a monarchy, reaching the hight of its 
glory in David and Solomon, the types of the victorious and peaceful reign of Christ; 
split into two hostile kingdoms, and, in punishment of internal discord and growing 
apostasy to idolatry, was carried captive by heathen conquerors; was restored, after sev- 
enty years' humiliation, to the land of its fathers, but fell again tinder the yoke of heathen 
foes; yet in its deepest abasement fulfilled its highest mission by giving birth to the 
Savior of the world. Judaism was, among the idolatrous nations of antiquity, like an 
oasis in a desert, clearly defined and isolated ; separated and inclosed by a rigid moral 
and ceremonial law. The Holy Land itself, though in the midst of the three grand divi- 
sions of the ancient world, was separated from the great nations of ancient culture by 
deserts south and east, by sea on the west, and by mountains on the north ; thus securing 
to the Mosaic religion freedom to unfold itself and to fulfill its great work without dis- 
turbing influences from abroad. And Israel carried in its bosom from the first the large 
promise, that in Abraham's seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed. 

The outward circumstances, and the moral and religious condition of the Jews at the 
birth of Christ, would indeed seem, at first and on the whole, to be in glaring contradic- 



PRELIMINARY REMARKS ON THE GOSPEL HISTORY. 145 

tion with their divine destiny. But, in the first place, their very degeneracy proved the 
need of Divine help. In the second place, the redemption through Christ appeared by 
contrast in the greater glory, as a creative act of God. And finally, amid the mass of 
corruption, as a preventive of putrefaction, lived the succession of the true children of 
Abraham, longing for the salvation of Israel, and ready to embrace Jesus of Nazareth as 
the promised Messiah and the Savior of the world. 

Since the battle of Philippi, (B. C. 42,) the Jews had been subject to the heathen 
Romans, who heartlessly governed them by the Idumean Herod and his sons, and after- 
ward by procurators. Under this hated yoke their Messianic hopes were powerfully 
raised, but carnally distorted. Misapprehending the spirit of the Old Testament, vain- 
gloriously boasting themselves to be the people of God, utterly blinded as to the cause of 
the terrible national judgments they were suffering, the mass of the Jewish nation desired 
nothing but deliverance from temporal distresses, and hoped greedily for the advent of a 
Messiah who should free them from the Eoman yoke by supernatural power, and give 
them the supreme dominion on earth. Their morals were outwardly far better than those 
of the heathen; but under the garb of strict obedience to their law they concealed great 
corruption. They are pictured in the New Testament as a stiff-necked, ungrateful, and 
impenitent race, a generation of vipers. Their own priest and historian, Josephus, who 
generally endeavored to present his countrymen to the Greeks and Romans in the most 
favorable light, describes them as at that time a debased and ungodly people, well deserv- 
ing their fearful punishment in the destruction of Jerusalem. As to religion, the Jews, 
especially after the Babylonish captivity, adhered most tenaciously to the letter of the 
law, and to their traditions and ceremonies, but without knowing the spirit and power of 
the Scriptures. They cherished the most bigoted horror of the heathen, and were there- 
fore despised and hated by them as misanthropic. After the time of the Maccabees, (B. 
C. 150,) they fell into two mutually-hostile sects. The Pharisees represented the tradi- 
tional orthodoxy and stiff formalism, the legal self-righteousness and the fanatical bigotry 
of Judaism. The bitter opponents of the Pharisees were the skeptical, rationalistic, and 
worldly-minded Sadducees. Their religious creed was confined to the mere letter of the 
Pentateuch, and contained only such tenets as they deemed to be explicitly taught in it. 
The sect of the Essenes came into no contact with the Gospel history. They were a 
mystic, ascetic sect, and lived in monkish seclusion on the coasts of the Dead Sea. 

Degenerate and corrupt though the mass of Judaism was, yet the Old Testament 
economy was the Divine institution preparatory to the Christian redemption, and as 
such received the deepest reverence from Christ and his apostles, while they sought by 
terrible rebuke to lead its unworthy representatives to repentance. Law and prophecy 
were the two great elements of the Jewish religion by which it was made a direct Divine 
introduction to Christianity. (1.) The law of Moses was the clearest expression of the 
holy will of God before the advent of Christ. It set forth the ideal of righteousness, and 
was thus fitted most effectually to awaken the sense of man's great departure from it, the 
knowledge of sin and guilt. It acted as a schoolmaster to lead men to Christ that they 
might be justified by faith. The same sense of guilt and of the need of reconciliation 
was constantly kept alwe by daily saci*ifices, at first in the Tabernacle and afterward in 
the Temple, and by the whole ceremonial law, which, as a wonderful system of types and 
shadows, perpetually pointed to the realities of the new covenant, especially to the one 
all-sufficient atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross. For, inasmuch as God requires 
absolute obedience and purity of heart, under promise of life and penalty of death, and 
as he can not cruelly sport with man, there is hidden in the moral and ritual law, as in a 
shell, the sweet kernel of a promise, that he will one day exhibit the ideal of righteous- 
ness in living form, and give the miserable sinner power to fulfill the law. Without such 
assurance the law were bitter irony. (2.) The law was, as already hinted, the vehicle of 
the Divine promise of redemption, and became by prophecy a religion of hope. While 

10 



146 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



the Greeks and Romans put their golden age in the past, the Jews looked for theirs in 
the future. Their whole history, their religious, political, and social institutions and cus- 
toms pointed to the coming of the Messiah, and the establishment of his kingdom on 
earth. Prophecy begins with the promise of the Serpent-bruiser immediately after the 
fall. It predominates in the patriarchal age, and Moses, the law-giver, was at the same 
time a prophet pointing the people to a greater successor. Without the comfort of the 
Messianic promise, the law must have driven the earnest soul to despair. From the time 
of Samuel, some eleven centuries before Christ, prophecy took an organized form in a 
permanent prophetical office and order. In this form it accompanied the Levitical priest- 
hood and the Davidic dynasty down to the Babylonish captivity, survived this catas- 
trophe, and directed the return of the people and the rebuilding of the Temple; inter- 
preting and applying the law, reproving abuses in Church and State, predicting the 
terrible judgments and the redeeming grace of God, warning and punishing, comforting 
and encouraging, with an ever plainer reference to the coming Messiah, who should 
redeem Israel and the world from sin and misery, and establish a kingdom of peace and 
righteousness on earth. 

This is the Jewish religion as it flowed from the fountain of Divine revelation and 
lived in the true Israel, the spiritual children of Abraham, in John the Baptist, his 
parents and disciples, in the mother of Jesus, her kindred and friends, in the venerable 
Simeon, and the prophetess Anna, in Lazarus and his pious sisters, in the apostles and 
the first disciples, who embraced Jesus of Nazareth as the fulfiller of the law and the 
prophets, the Son of God and the Savior of the world. 

We have to glance, 3. At the influence which Judaism and heathenism mutually exerted 
upon one another. (1.) The Jews, since the Babylonish captivity, had been scattered over 
all the world. In spite of the antipathy of the Gentiles, they had, by their judgment, 
industry, and tact, risen to wealth and influence, and had built their synagogues in all the 
commercial cities of the Roman Empire. They had thus sown the seeds of the knowledge 
of the true God, and of Messianic hope in the field of the idolatrous world. The Old 
Testament Scriptures were translated into Greek two centuries before Christ, and were 
read and expounded in the public worship of God, which was open to all. Every' syna- 
gogue was, as it were, a mission-station of monotheism, and furnished the apostles an 
admirable place and a most natural introduction for their preaching of Jesus Christ ap 
the fulfiller of the law and the prophets. Then, as the heathen religions had been hope 
lessly undermined by skeptical philosophy and popular infidelity, many earnest Gentiles, 
especially multitudes of women, came over to Judaism either wholly or in part. The 
thorough converts, called "proselytes of righteousness," were commonly still more big- 
oted and fanatical than the native Jews. The half-converts, "proselytes of the gate," or 
"God-fearing men," who adopted only the monotheism, the principal moral laws, and the 
Messianic hopes of the Jews, without being circumcised, appear in the New Testament as 
the most susceptible hearers of the Gospel. (2.) On the other hand, the Grseco-Roman 
heathenism, through its language, philosophy, and literature, exerted no inconsiderable 
influence to soften the fanatical bigotry in the higher and more cultivated classes of the 
Jews. Generally the Jews of the dispersion, who spoke the Greek language, the Hellenists, 
as they were called, were much more liberal than the proper Hebrews, or Palestinian Jews, 
who kept their mother tongue. This is evident in the Gentile missionaries, Barnabas of 
Cyprus, and Paul of Tarsus, and in the whole Church of Antioch, in contrast with that 
at Jerusalem. The Hellenistic-Jewish form of Christianity was the natural bridge to the 
Gentile. The most remarkable example of a traditional, though very fantastic and 
Gnostic-like combination of Jewish and heathen elements meets us in the educated cir- 
cles of the Egyptian metropolis, Alexandria, and in the system of Philo, who was cotem- 
porary with the founding of the Christian Church, though he never came in contact with 
it. This Jewish theologian sought to harmonize the religion of Moses with the philos- 



PRELIMINARY REMARKS ON THE GOSPEL HISTORY. 147 

ophy of Plato by the help of an ingenious but arbitrary allegorical interpretation of the 
Old Testament; and from the books of Proverbs and of Wisdom he deduced a doctrine 
of the Logos so similar to that of John's Gospel, that some have imputed to the apostle 
an acquaintance with the writings of Phiio. But Philo's speculation is to the apostle's 
"Word made flesh," as a shadow to the body, or a dream to the reality. The Theraputse, 
or Worshipers, a mystic, ascetic sect in Egypt, akin to the Essenes in Judea, carried this 
Platonic Judaism into practical life; but were, of course, equally unsuccessful in uniting 
the two religions in a vital and permanent way. Such a union could only be effected by 
a new religion revealed from heaven. 

Thus was the way for Christianity prepared on every side, positively and negatively, 
directly and indirectly, in theory and practice, by truth and by error, by false belief and 
by unbelief, by Jewish religion, by Grecian culture, and by Eoman conquest; by the 
vainly-attempted amalgamation of Jewish and heathen thought, by the exposed impo- 
tence of natural civilization, philosophy, art, and political power, by the decay of the old 
religions, by the universal distraction and hopeless misery of the age, and by the yearn- 
ings of all earnest and noble souls for the unknown God. 

In the fullness of time, when the fairest flowers of science and art had withered, and 
the world was on the verge of despair, the Virgin's Son was born to heal the infirmities 
of mankind. Christ entered a dying world as the author of a new and imperishable life. 

§ 35. The Chronology and Harmony op the Gospel Narratives. 

It is very difficult to arrange in their proper chronological order the events of our 
Lord's life, many of which are narrated by one or more of the Evangelists in a different 
order. Alford thinks that it is impossible to combine the narratives given by the Evan- 
gelists into one continuous history, without doing considerable violence to the arrange- 
ment of some one or more of the Evangelists. We readily acknowledge that we can not 
gather from the Gospel records that knowledge of the real process of the transactions 
themselves, which alone would enable us to give a satisfactory account of the different 
order in which they appear in our Gospels, and with certainty to assign to each event its 
proper chronological place; nevertheless, there is light enough to show us the chronolog- 
ical order of the Gospel narratives in the main, and modern harmonists have arrived at 
the same conclusions on almost every essential point, except with regard to the beginning 
of the Galilean ministry proper and the insertion of Luke ix, 51-xviii, 14. The late Dr. 
E. Robinson has given, in his "Harmony of the Four Gospels," a digest of the many 
learned disquisitions on the various difficult points, and the conclusions which he has 
ai*rived at in common with the leading harmonists of Germany, and upon which he builds 
his harmonistical arrangement of the Gospel narratives, have been accepted by all the 
later commentators; their synoptical and harmonistical table does not vary from that of 
Robinson. But there has now appeared a work whose thorough researches have brought 
out a different and far more satisfactory result with regard to the two important points 
mentioned above. We refer to " The Life of Our Lord upon the Earth, 1 ' by the Eev. Samuel 
J. Andrews, who has done the Church a great and lasting service by setting the design 
of our Tjord's Judean ministry, and its relation to the Galilean, as well as his last journey 
to Jerusalem, in a light which has an important bearing upon the exegesis of the Gospels. 
We have no doubt that, henceforward, Mr. Andrews will be the standard authority on the 
chronology and harmony of the Gospels, as Dr. Robinson has been hitherto. To his 
"Life of Our Lord," our readers will be indebted for much of the light which we have 
been enabled to throw upon the chronological and harmonistical questions in the Gospel 
history. By having adopted the results of Mr. Andrews's researches, and arranging 
them in tabular form, we hope to contribute something toward giving his valuable work 
a more general circulation. The chronology and harmony of the Gospels is of so much 



148 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



importance, that it ought to be made a subject-matter of study for itself, apart from all 
other questions, and the Bible student will find in Mr. Andrews's work all he needs for 
this purpose. 

Referring the reader to that work, and to our comments on the respective passages to 
which the chronological and harmonistical questions refer, for details, and for the reasons 
that have led us to our conclusions, we will here only present Mr. Andrews's synopsis of 
the Gospel history, slightly modified, and arranged in tabular form, preceded by a sum- 
mary of the data we have for ascertaining the year of our Lord's birth, and death, and 
the duration of his ministry, in order to obtain a basis for a chronological arrangement 
of the events narrated in the Gospels. 

A. THE DATE OF THE BIRTH OP CHRIST. 

According to the received chronology, which is that of Dionysius Exiguus, in the 
sixth century, Jesus was born in the year of Rome 754. But it is now admitted, on all 
hands, that this calculation places the nativity some years too late. It can be proved 
satisfactorily that it could not have occurred after 750, nor before 747. 

1. It is certain that Jesus was born before the death of Herod the Great, (Matt, ii, 
1-6.) Almost all chronologists agree in putting his death in the year 750, shortly before 
the Passover, (between the 13th of March and the 4th of April.) But how long before 
Herod's death was Christ born? The answer to this question depends upon the length 
of time which the events between his birth and Herod's death — the presentation of the 
child at the Temple forty days after the nativity, the visit of the Magi, the flight into 
Egypt, and the remaining there till Herod was dead — -may have required. So much is 
certain, that the nativity can not be fixed later than the month of January, 750. 

2. Another note of time occurs in Luke iii, 1, 2, where John the Baptist is said to 
have entered upon his ministry in the fifteenth year of Tiberius. The rule of Tiberius 
may be calculated either from the beginning of his sole reign, after the death of Augus- 
tus, August 19, 767, or from his joint government with Augustus, near the end of 764 or 
the beginning of 765. It is admitted by most chronologists as almost certain, that Luke 
computed the reign of Tiberius from his colleagueship. If so, the fifteenth }*ear of Tibe- 
rius and the beginning of John's ministry is 779. From the fact that the Levites were 
not allowed to enter upon their full service till the age of thirty, (Num. iv, 3,) it has been 
generally supposed — although there is no express law to that effect — that the priests 
began their labors at the same age. Hence it has been inferred that John must have 
reached the age of thirty ere he began his ministry. That his ministry may have con- 
tinued about six months, when the Lord came to be baptized, is in the highest degree 
probable. If, then, John entered upon his ministry in the year 779, being thirty years 
old, and about six months elapsed ere the Lord, whose birth took place six months after 
that of John, came to him to be baptized, it follows that the birth of John is to be fixed in 
the Summer of 749, and that of our Lord toward the close of the same year or in the 
beginning of 750. 

3. The baptism of Jesus was followed by a Passover, (John ii, 13,) at which certain 
Jews mention that the restoration of their Temple had been in progress for forty-six 
years, Jesus himself being at this time "about thirty years of age," (Luke iii, 23.) The 
statement of Luke, "And Jesus himself began to be about (wait) thirty years of age," has 
been variously interpreted. According to some it is to be understood as a round or indef- 
inite number, permitting a latitude of at least two or three years. But this is highly 
improbable. The most natural meaning is, that the Lord was some months more or less 
than thirty. He was not just thirty, nor twenty-nine, nor thirty-one. This is confirmed 
by the remark of the Jews, at the Passover which our Lord visited two or three months 
after his baptism, that the Temple was then in building forty and six years. This build- 
ing, or rather rebuilding, of the Temple was begun by Herod in the eighteenth year of his 



PRELIMINARY REMARKS ON THE GOSPEL HISTORY. 149 

reign, or during the year from Nisan, 734-Nisan, 735. The forty-sixth year following was 
from Nisan, 780-81. If the forty-sixth year is to be taken as completed, it was that 
of 781 ; if it is to be taken as current, it was that of 780. This calculation, like the 
former points, would fix the birth of Jesus toward the close of 749, or beginning of 750. 
But this calculation is made somewhat uncertain by the consideration that Josephus 
assigns the length of Herod's reign at thirty-seven or thirty-four years, according as he 
reckons from his appointment by the Eomans, or from the death of Antigonus. 

4. Astronomy is also brought under contribution to settle the date of the birth of 
Christ. Whether the star seen by the Magi was the conjunction of the planets Jupiter 
and Saturn, which occurred in the year 747, the reader will find discussed in our notes on 
Matthew ii, 1-10. We do not enter here upon this question, because, owing to our not 
knowing whether the first appearance of the constellation was designed to signify the 
annunciation of the incarnation or the actual birth, nor at which of the successive 
appearances of the constellation the Magi set out on their journey, we can not reach any 
precise chronological results, except this, that the conjunction of the planets in 747 define 
the earliest period at which the Lord's birth can be placed. 

In respect to the time of the year when Jesus was born there is still less certainty. 
Mr. Andrews says: "The only direct datum which the Gospels give us is found in the 
statement of Luke, (i, 5,) that Zacharias 'was of the course of Abia.' It is known that 
the priests were divided into twenty-four classes, each of which officiated at the Temple 
in its turn for a week, (1 Chron. xxiv, 1-19.) This order, originally established by 
David, was broken up by the captivity. The four classes that returned from Babylon 
were divided anew by Ezra into twenty-four, to which the old names were given. An- 
other interruption was made by the invasion of Antiochus, but the old order was restored 
by the Maccabees. Of these courses that of Jehojarib was the first, that of Abia the 
eighth. We need, therefore, only to know a definite time at which any one of the courses 
.was officiating, in order to be able to trace the succession. Such a datum we find in the 
Talmudical statements, supported by Josephus, (Bell. Jud., VI, iv, 5,) that, at the destruc- 
tion of the Temple by Titus, on the 5th of August, 823, the first class had just entered on 
its course. Its period of service was from the evening of the 4th of August, which was 
the Sabbath, to the evening of the following Sabbath, on the 11th of August. We can 
now easily compute backward, and ascertain at what time in any given year each class 
was officiating. If we take the year 749 as the probable year of Christ's birth, the 
appearance of the angel to Zacharias announcing John's birth must be placed 748. In 
this year we find, by computation, that the course of Abia officiated during the weeks 
from April 17th to 23d, and again from October 3d to 9th. At each of these periods, 
therefore, was Zacharias at Jerusalem. If the annunciation of the angel was made to 
him during the former, the birth of John may be placed near the beginning of 749, and 
the Lord's birth about six months later, or near the middle of 749; if the annunciation 
was made during the latter, John's birth was near the middle of 749, and the Lord's birth 
near its end. The fact that we do not know how soon after the conviction of the min- 
istry of Zacharias the conception of John is to be placed prevents any vei*y exact state- 
ment of dates. Luke (i, 24) uses only the general expression, 'After those days his wife 
Elizabeth conceived.' Yet the tenor of the narrative leads us to believe that it was soon 
after his return to his home, and may be placed in either of the months, April or October. 
Counting onward fifteen months, we reach June and December, in one of which the birth 
of Christ is thus to be placed." To the month of December the objection is made, that, in 
the night when the Lord was born, shepherds were in the field keeping watch over their 
flocks, and that, if we place the birth of Christ in that season, his baptism would fall in 
January, a month considered by some as unfavorable for the work of baptism. But the 
most reliable testimonies concerning the climate of Palestine show the groundlessness of 
the objection made on this ground. Considering the time most probably required for the 



150 GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



events that took place between our Lord's baptism and his first Passover, we are almost 
forced to the conclusion that he was baptized by John early in January, and that, there- 
fore, his birth is to be placed in the month of December. 

B. THE DURATION OF OUR LORD'S MINISTRY, AND THE DATE OF HIS DEATH. 

"We have shown the grounds upon which we may assume that the Baptist began his 
ministry in midsummer of the year 779, and that our Lord was baptized about six 
months afterward, that is in January, 780. Immediately after his baptism he was led by 
the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil, and was there forty days. From 
John i, 29, we learn that after the temptation he returned to Bethabara the day after 
John had been visited by a deputation of priests and Levites from Jerusalem. As he sees 
Jesus coming he bears witness to him as the Lamb of God. The day following he repeats 
this testimony to his disciples. Two of them — Andrew, and no doubt John, the narrator 
of the fact — followed Jesus and staid with him the whole day. Andrew brings his 
brother Simon to see him also, and he receives the name Cephas. The succeeding day 
Jesus departs to Galilee. Two days seem to have been spent on the way to Cana, during 
which time he meets with Philip and JSTathanael. On the third day (from the departure 
to Galilee) the marriage-feast took place at Cana, where our Lord performed his first 
miracle. From Cana he went down with his mother and brethren, and disciples, to 
Capernaum, and remained there (John ii, 12, 13) till it was time to go up to Jerusalem to 
attend the Passover, which, in the year 780, fell upon the 9th of April; the whole interval 
between his baptism and his first Passover was, consequently, about three months. 

The duration of our Lord's ministry can best be determined by the number of Pass- 
overs which took place between his baptism and death, and which we have to ascertain 
from the Gospel of John. This Evangelist mentions six feasts, at five of which Jesus 
was present; the Passover that followed his baptism, (ii, 13;) a feast of the Jews, (v, 1;) 
a Passover, during which Jesus remained in Galilee, (vi, 4;) the feast of tabernacles to 
which the Lord went up privately, (vii, 2;) the feast of dedication, (x, 22;) and, lastly, 
the Passover at which he suffered. There are, therefore, certainly three Passovers, and 
if the feast mentioned in chap, v, 1, be also a Passover, four. The reasons for regarding it 
as a Passover we shall state in our comments on John v, 1 ; they are so preponderating 
that a great majority of commentators and harmonists have declared in favor of it, and 
we, therefore, assume this conclusion here as the most probable. Accordingly, our Lord's 
ministry from his baptism embraced three years and about three months, and the Pass- 
over on which he died was that of 783. 

With regard to the day of the month on which he died, we meet the much-disputed 
point whether he was crucified on the 14th or 15th Nisan. According to the Synoptists, 
Jesus partook of the Paschal Supper at the same time with the Jews in general, and at 
the time appointed in the law, on the evening following the 14th Nisan, Thursday even- 
ing, and on the next day, Friday, the 15th Nisan, he was crucified. But according to 
John (xviii, 28, and xix, 14) it seems that Christ was crucified on the 14th USTisan, the 
same day on the evening of which the supper was to be legally eaten, and that, conse- 
quently, the supper eaten by him and his disciples the evening previous to his death was 
not the legal Paschal Supper. How John's statement is to be harmonized with that of 
the Synoptists, will be considered at the proper place in the Commentary. This point is 
mentioned here only on account of its bearing on the year in which our Lord died. We 
assume here that our Lord died on the 15th Nisan. As it is almost universally admitted 
that he died on Friday, the question arises, in what year following 780 the 15th Nisan 
fell on a Friday. According to Wieseler this was the case in 783. Those who place the 
crucifixion on the 14th JSTisan, find that it fell on a Friday in 782 and 786. Seyffarth 
contends that he died on the 14th JSTisan in the year 785, and that this day was Thurs- 
day, not Friday. 



PRELIMINARY REMARKS ON THE GOSPEL HISTORY. 151 

Inasmuch as the duration of our Lord's ministry can not be ascertained with absolute 
certainty, from the number of Passovers which took place between his baptism and 
death, the following data have been made the basis of computing the year of the death 
of Christ. 1. The tradition of the Talmudists. that the power to inflict capital punish- 
ment was taken from the Jews forty years before the Temple was destroyed, which 
occurred in 823, is adduced as corroborative of the crucifixion having taken place in the 
year 783. 2. It has been inferred from the parable of the barren fig-tree, (Luke xiii, 
6-9,) that Christ's ministry dated three years from the Passover of 780. 3. The pro- 
phetic half-week of Daniel (ix, 27) has been interpreted as referring to the length of our 
Lord's ministry; but this is a mere conjecture. 4. The great eclipse of the sun, reported 
by Phlegon to have taken place in the fourth year of the 202d Olympiad — from July, 
785 to 786 — has been considered by some as identical with the darkening of the sun at 
the crucifixion; but this supposition is of no weight, because the darkening of the sun 
occurring at the time of the full moon could not have been an eclipse. Besides, the 
eclipse spoken of by Phlegon occurred, according to astronomical calculations, in No- 
vember, 782. 5. Some of the Fathers were induced by the passage, Isaiah lxi, 2, where 
mention is made of "the acceptable year of the Lord," quoted by the Lord at Nazareth, 
(Luke iv, 19,) to limit his ministry to a single year, or a year and some months. But 
this supposition is entirely untenable. No less preposterous is the inference of Irenseus, 
from John viii, 57, and ii, 20, that our Lord was between forty and fifty years old when 
he died. 6. According to Tertullian, Christ suffered under Tiberius Cassar, E. Geminus 
and P. Geminus being Consuls, on the eighth day before the calends of April — March 
25th. This statement, although it seems to have obtained general currency, is inexplica- 
ble. The Gemini were Consuls during the year beginning January, 782. Our Lord's 
death could not have taken place in that year on the 25th of March, for he was crucified 
on the 14th or 15th Nisan; and these days, in 782, fell on the 16th and 17th of April. 
Besides, Tertullian is not consistent with himself, assigning to our Lord's ministry in one 
place, one year, and in another place, three years. 

In consideration of all the data, though none of them leads to absolute certainty, the 
majority of modern commentators and harmonists have arrived at the conclusion that the 
ministry of our Lord embraced four Passovers, having a duration of three years and 
about three months from his baptism in the beginning of January, 780, to the 7th of 
April, 783. 



152 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



C. SYNOPTICAL TABLE OF THE GOSPEL HISTORY. 

For the sake of reference in the Commentary we have numbered the different items in the Synoptical Table ; and to make 
it at the same time a table of Harmony, showing more clearly how much of each event two or more Evangelists have related 
in common, we have often made of one and the same event more than one item. A. TJ. C, in the first column, is the desig- 
nation of the Roman Chronology, reckoned from the building of the city of Home. C. C. C, in the second column, stands 
for the Common Christian Chronology. 



A.u.C. C. C. c. 



748 



749 



749 



6B. C. 



5B.C 



5B. C 



749 5 B. C. 



749 



MonOi and Day. 



October . 



March or April. 



June or July. 



July. 



5B. C 



December . 



CONTENTS. 



I. Introductory Events. 

The angel Gabriel announces to 
Zacharias, a priest of the course of 
Abia, while burning incense in the 
Temple, that his aged wife, Eliza- 
beth, shall bear him a son, whose 
name shall be John 

After his course had completed its 
ministry, Zacharias returns to his 
own house, Elizabeth conceives a 
son, and spends the five months fol- 
lowing in retirement in the hill- 
country of Judah 

In the sixth month of Elizabeth's 
conception, the angel Gabriel is sent 
to Nazareth in Galilee, to a virgin 
named Mary, who was betrothed to 
a man named Joseph, of the house of 
David, to announce to her that she 
should be the mother of the Mes- 
siah 

Immediately after the visit of the 
angel, Mary left Nazareth, and went 
to the home of Zacharias in the hill- 
country of Judah, and remained 
there about three months 

A little before the birth of John 
Mary returns to Nazareth ; Joseph, 
seeing her condition, is minded to 
put her away privily ; but, in obedi- 
ence to a command of God, which he 
receives in a dream, through an an- 
gel, he takes Mary home as his wife. 

Elizabeth gives birth to a son, who 
is circumcised on the eighth day, 
and named John, in obedience to the 
angel's direction. Zacharias, with 
loosened tongue, and filled with the 
Holy Ghost, praises God and proph- 
esies concerning the mission of his 
son 



II. The Birth, Childhood, and Private 
Life of Jesus. 

In consequence of an edict from 
Ca:sar Augustus concerning taxation, 
Joseph and Mary leave Nazareth to 
go to Bethlehem, the city of David, 
to be taxed there 

Upon their arrival at Bethlehem 
they can find no room at the inn, 
and take refuge in a place where 



1: 18-25 



1: 5-22 



1: 23-25 



1: 26-38 



1: 39-56 



1: 57-79 



2: 1-5 



SYNOPTICAL TABLE OF THE GOSPEL HISTORY. 



153 



C. C. C. Month and Day. 



CONTENTS. 



MARK. LUKE 



Ch. Ver. Ch. Ver. 



749 



5B. C. 



December . 



750 



750 



4 B.C. 



4B. C 



January .. 
February. 



750 



4B. C, 



May. 



761 



8 A. D 



April 8th. 



779 
780 



26 A. D 
27A.D. 



July 

January. 



10. 



11 



12 



13 



14. 



15. 



16. 



17. 



18. 



19 



cattle were lodged. The babe is 
born, and laid in a manger 

The same night in which he was 
born an angel of the Lord appeared 
to some shepherds who were keeping 
watcb over their flocks, and an- 
nounced to them his birth. Leaving 
their flocks, they hastened to Beth- 
lehem to see the child, and, finding 
him, returned, praising God 

Upon the eighth day following his 
birth the child was circumcised, and 
the name Jesus given to him 

Forty days after his birth Mary 
presented herself with the child in 
the Temple according to the law...... 

Soon after the presentation the 
Wise Men from the Bast came to 
worship the new-born King of the 
Jews. This visit excited the sus- 
picions of Herod, who made diligent 
inquiries of them; but being warned 
of God, in a dream, that they should 
not return to him, they departed to 
their own country by another Way.... 

Immediately after their departure, 
Joseph, warned by God in a dream, 
takes Mary and Jesus and goes down 
into Egypt 

Herod, as soon as he finds himself 
foiled by the Wise Men, gives or- 
ders that all the male children of 
Bethlehem, of two years old and 
under, be slain 

Joseph, with Mary and Jesus, re- 
mains in Egypt till he hears, through 
an angel, of Herod's death. He de- 
signs to return to Judea, but is di- 
rected by God to go to Nazareth 

There Jesus remains during his 
childhood and youth 

Jesus, being twelve years old, goes 
for the first time from Nazareth up 
to Jerusalem to keep the Passover. 
After the expiration of the feast he 
remained behind to converse with 
the doctors, and was found in the 
Temple, three days after, by his 
parents 

Returning to Nazareth, he dwelt 
there in retirement till the time came 
that he should enter upon his public 
work 



2: 6,7 



HI. Announcement and Introduction of 
our Lord's Public Ministry. 

The Baptist's preparation for his 
mission 

He commences to preach and baptize 
After his ministry had continued 
about six months, Jesus comes from 
Nazareth to the Jordan, and is bap- 
tized by John 



2: 8-20 



2: 21 



2: 22-38 



2: 1-12 



2: 13-15 



2: 16-18 



2: 19-22 
2: 23 



2:39,40 



2: 41-51 



2: 52 



3: 1-12 



80 
1-18 



3:13-17 1: 9-11 3:21-23 



151 



GENEEAL INTRODUCTION. 



A.U.C. C. C. C. 



780 



27A.D. 



780 



780 



27A.B 



Mouth and D.ay. 



April llth-18th. 



27A.D. 



December , 



31 



32 



33. 



:;■■! 



35. 



36 



37 



38 



.'!<! 



-Ill 



CONTENTS. 



Immediately after his baptism Je- 
sus was led by the Spirit into the 
wilderness to be tempted of the 
devil, and continued there forty 
days 

The Baptist's declaration to a dep- 
utation of priests and Levites from 
Jerusalem 

The next day Jesus returns to the 
Jordan, and the Baptist points him 
out as the Lamb of God 

The day following he repeats his 
testimony to his disciples 

Two of the Baptist's disciples — 
Andrew and John — seek the ac- 
quaintance of Christ 

The first interview of Christ with 
Peter 

The next da'y our Lord sets out for 
Galilee, and meets Philip and Na- 
thanael 

Three days after he arrives at 
Cana, and performs his first miracle. 

He makes a short visit at Caper- 
naum, and then goes up to Jerusa- 
lem to attend the Passover 



IV. The First Tear of our Lord's Ministry, 

dating from the First Passover he 

attended after his Baptism. 

At the Passover Jesus drives out of 
the Temple the sellers of animals for 
sacrifice, and the money-changers.... 

To the Jews who demand his au- 
thority for doing so, he replies in a 
parable 

During the feast he wrought mir- 
acles which led many to believe on 
him 



He is visited at night by Nicode- 
mus, to whom he explains the nature 
of the new birth 

Afterward he departs from Jerusa- 
lem into the land of Judea, where 
he tarries with the disciples he had 
gained, and who baptized in his 
name 

The Baptist, in reply to the com- 
plaints of his disciples, bears a new 
testimony to Christ 

Jesus, knowing that the Pharisees 
would arouse the jealousy of John's 
disciples, to the injury of the cause, 
ceases to baptize, and retires to Gal- 
ilee 



Passing through Samaria, he holds 
a conversation with a woman at Ja- 
cob's well 

He tells his disciples of the ap- 
proaching harvest ; and many of the 
Samaritans believe on him 

After two days he goes to Galilee, 
and is received there with honor by 



4: 1-11 



1:12,13 



4: 1-13 



1: 19-28 

1: 29-34 
1: 35, 36 

1: 37-40 
1:41,42 

1: 43-51 
2: 1-11 

2: 12, 13 



2: 14-17 



2: 18-22 



2: 23-25 



3: 1-21 



3: 22 
4: 2 



3: 23-36 



4: 1,3 



4: 4-26 



4: 27-42 



SYNOPTICAL TABLE OF THE GOSPEL HISTORY. 



155 



TIME. 


NO. 


CONTENTS. 


MATT. 


MARK. 


LUKE. 


JOHN. 


A.U.C. 


c c. c. 


Month and Day, 


Ch. Ver. 


Ch. Ver. 


Ch. Ver. 


Ch. Ver. 










the Galileans because of the works 


















which he did in Jerusalem at the 










780 


27A.D. 




41. 










4: 43-45 


Coining to Cana, he heals the no- 
















bleman's son at Capernaum. He 


















afterward lives in retirement till 
called to go up to the next Passover. 

V. The Second Year of our Lord's Public 
Ministry. 






{ 


4: 46-54 
5: 1 






{ 


781 


28A.D. 


Mar. 30th-Apr. 5th. 


42. 
43. 


During the feast he heals an impo- 
tent man at the Pool of Bethesda.... 
This act, done on the Sabbath day, 








5: 2-9 
















arouses the anger of the Jews, who 
















44. 










5: 10-16 


He defends his right to do so upon 














45. 


grounds which still more exasperate 








5: 17-47 


He hears of the imprisonment of 
















the Baptist, and retires to Galilee to 




















4: 12-17 


1:14,15 


4: 14, 15 




[The imprisonment of John took 










place a short time before the Pass- 




















14: 3-5 


6: 17-20 


3:19,20] 










46. 


He comes to Nazareth, and teaches 
















in the synagogue. The people, be- 


















coming enraged at his discourse, at- 


















tempt to kill him ; but he escapes 
out of their hands and fixes his 










781 


28 A. D. 




47. 




4: 13-16 




4: 16-31 




Near Capernaum, on the shore of 
the Galilean lake, he calls Peter and 




























Andrew, James and John, at the 


















time of the miraculous draught of 




















4: 18-22 


1:16-20 


5: 1-11 










48. 


He teaches, and cures a demoniac, 




1: 21-28 


4: 32-37 










49. 


He heals Peter's wife's mother and 


8: 14-17 


1: 29-34 


4: 38-41 










50. 




4: 23-25* 


1:35-39 


4: 42-44 










51. 


[That this healing is not chrono- 
logically placed by Matthew appears 
from the whole arrangement of chap- 
ters viii and ix. Mark connects it 
with the first circuit in Galilee, but 
with no mention of place. Luke in- 
troduces it with no mark of time.] 


8: 2-4 


1:40-45 


5: 12-16 




781 


28A.D. 




52. 


He returns to Capernaum. A par- 
alytic is brought to his house upon a 
bed, whom he heals, forgiving his 
































53. 




9: 2-8 


2: 1-12 


5: 17-26 




The call of Levi (or Matthew) the 








54. 




9: 9 


2: 13, 14 


5: 27, 28 




He defends his disciples for pluck- 








55. 


ing ears of grain on the Sabbath 

Upon another Sabbath he heals a 
man with a withered hand, which in- 
duces the Pharisees to conspire with 
the Herodians to destroy him 


12: 1-8 
12: 9-14 


2: 23-28 
3: 1-6 


6: 1-5 
6: 6-11 






*This passage (Matt, iv, 23-25) seems not bo much 
a description of our Lord's firBt circuit in Galilee as u 
general statement of his itinerancy there. 



156 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



A.U.C. C. C. C. 



Month and Dnv. 



781 



28A.D. 



781 



28A.D 



Autumn 



56. 



57, 



58. 



59. 



60. 



61, 



02. 



63. 



64 



65 



66 



CONTENTS. 



Jesus withdraws to the Lake of 
Galilee, followed by great multitudes 
from all parts of the land. He heals 
many as they press upon him to 
touch him, and then directs that a 
small ship be prepared to wait upon 
him 

He goes into a neighboring mount- 
ain to spend the night in prayer 

On the following morning he or- 
dains the twelve apostles 

The multitudes gathering around 
him, he proceeds to deliver the dis- 
course called " The Sermon on the 
Mount." 

He returns to Capernaum, and 
heals the Centurion's servant 

Crowds continue to follow him, so 
that he has no time even to eat, and 
his friends become alarmed at his 
incessant labors 

On the following day he goes to 
Nain, and there restores to life the 
son of a widow, as they were bear- 
ing him to the grave 

While continuing his ministry in 
that part of Galilee, John the Bap- 
tist sends from his prison a message 
to him by two of his disciples. Jesus 
returns an answer, and addresses the 
multitude respecting John 

[Immediately upon these words 
concerning John, follows, in Mat- 
thew, (ix, 20-30,) an address to the 
cities Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Ca- 
pernaum. Luke gives it, (x, 13-16,) 
in connection with the mission of the 
seventy disciples. In all probability 
our Lord made the same address on 
two different occasions ; if not, the 
time in which Luke places it appears 
to bo more correct; and we must as- 
sume that " a part of what was actu- 
ally spoken to the seventy is given 
by Matthew on account of its affinity 
to what precedes, and because the 
mission of the seventy, as being 
something altogether temporary and 
without distinctive character, is not 
recorded by him."] 

While dining with a Pharisee, 
named Simon, he is anointed by a 
woman who had been a sinner 

He continues his tour, or makes 
another one, through Galilee with 
his disciples, accompanied by cer- 
tain women 

Having returned to Capernaum — 
as is to be inferred from Mark iii, 
22 — he heals one possessed with a 
devil, both blind and dumb. The 
Pharisees charge him with casting 
out devils by tho help of Beelzebub, 



12: 15-21 



10: 1-4 

5: 6: 7: 
8: 5-15 



11: 2-19 



3: 7-12 



3:13-19 



6: 12 
6: 13-16 

6: 17-49 
7: 1-10 



3:20,21 



7: 11-17 



7: 18-35 



7: 36-50 



8: 1-3 



SYNOPTICAL TABLE OF THE GOSPEL HISTORY. 



157 



A.U.C. C. C. C. Month and Day. 



781 



28 A. D. 



67 



68 



C'.i 



70 



71 



72. 



73 



CONTENTS. 



and some, tempting him, ask a sign 
from heaven. He replies to their 
charge, warning them against com- 
mitting the unpardonable sin, and 
refuses to give them a sign 

[Most of the Harmonists consider 
the healing, and the discourse eon- 
sequent upon it, recorded in Luke xi, 
14-36, as identical with the above 
passages in Matthew and Mark. If 
it is so, the report of Luke is not in 
chronological order. On the other 
hand, notwithstanding the great sim- 
ilarity which it bears to Matthew 
xii, 22, and Mark iii, 22, the healing 
recorded by Luke seems to have been 
a different one, and to stand in its 
proper chronological place. As to 
the similarity of the discourse of our 
Lord with the Pharisees, we must 
remember that, as their blasphemous 
charge was repeated, so our Lord 
may have made essentially the same 
reply.] 

While he is yet speaking it is an- 
nounced to him that his mother and 
brethren stand without, desiring to 
see him. He points to his disciples, 
and says, Behold my mother and my 
brethren 

The same day he left his house 
and sat by the seaside ; and, as the 
multitude gathered to him, he en- 
tered a ship and taught them in a 
series of parables 

At the close of the day he gives a 
commandment to depart to the other 
side 

As they were preparing to go, he 
holds a conversation with a scribe 
and with one of his disciples about 
following him 

He enters the ship with the disci- 
ples and crosses the lake. Upon the 
way a violent tempest arises; Jesus 
stills the wind and waves 

He lands in the country of the 
Gerges^nes, and is met by two men 
possessed by demons, whose dwell- 
ing was in the tombs near by. Be- 
holding Jesus, they run to meet him, 
and he, casting out the demons, per- 
mits them to enter into a herd of 
swine feeding near by. The swine, 
so possessed, run down the hill-side 
into the sea and perish. The inhab- 
itants desire him to depart from 
their coasts 

After directing one of the healed 
demoniacs to proclaim through De- 



* The parallel passage in Luke is not in its chrono- 
logical ordep. 



12: 22^5 



12: 46-50 



13: 1-53 



8: 18-22 



8: 23-27 



8: 28-34 



3: 22-30 



3: 31-35 



4: 1-34 



4: 35 



8: 19-21 



8: 4-18 



8: 22 



9: 57-60* 



4: 36^1 



8: 23-25 



5: 1-17 



8: 26-37 



158 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



A.U.C. C. C. C. 



781 



28 A.D. 



782 



782 



782 



782 



29 A.D. 



29 A.D 



29 A.D 



29 A.D. 



Month and Day. 



January. 
February 
March.... 



April. 



74, 



75, 



70. 



77 



78. 



79, 



80, 



81. 



H2 



CONTENTS. 



oapolis what had been done for him, 
Jesus returns to Capernaum 

After his return to Capernaum he 
was invited by Matthew to a feast in 
his house, where he held a conversa- 
tion with some Pharisees and with 
some of John's disciples 

While yet speaking to them there 
came a ruler of a synagogue, named 
Jairus, to him, praying for the heal- 
ing of his daughter. As Jesus was 
on the way to the house of Jairus, 
he heals a woman of an issue of 
blood. A messenger, meeting him, 
announces the death of the girl ; but 
he proceeds, and, entering the house, 
restores her to life 

Returning homeward from the 
house of Jairus, he is followed by 
two blind men, saying, "Son of Da- 
vid, have mercy on us." They enter 
his house ; and, being healed, he 
charges them that they should not 
speak of what he had done; but 
they, going forth, every-where pro- 
claim it. As they departed a dumb 
demoniac was brought to him, whom 
he healed, to the astonishment of 
the multitude. This gave the Phar- 
isees new occasion to say that he 
east out devils through Satan 

[Some identify Luke xi, 14, 15, 
with Matthew ix, 32-34 ; and, as the 
healing of the dumb demoniac was 
immediately after that of the blind 
men, both miracles are placed, at a 
much later period, after the sending 
of the seventy.] 

Leaving Capernaum he visits, ac- 
companied by his disciples, Nazareth 
again, and is rejected a second time. 

Jesus enters upon a new circuit 
through Galilee, and sends forth the 
twelve 

About this time John is beheaded 
in prison, and the news of his death 
is brought to Jesus by some of John's 
disciples 

Herod hears of Christ, fears that 
he is John risen, and expresses a de- 
sire to see him 

After the return of the twelve to 
him from their missionary tour, Jesus 
prepares to go with them across the 
lake to find seclusion and rest; but, 
being followed by the multitude, he 
feeds upward of five thousand per- 
sons 

Immediately after, he orders the 
disciples to return in the ship to 
Capernaum, while he remains to dis- 
miss the people. He spends the 
night alone in prayer, and early in 



9: 1 



9: 10-17 



9: 18-26 



9: 27-34 



13: 54-58 



,' 9: 35-38 
1 10: 5-42 



14: 6-12 



14: 1, 2 



14: 13-21 



5: 18-20 



2: 15-22 



8: 38, 39 



5: 29-39 



5: 21-43 



8: 40-56 



6: 1-6 



6: 7-13 



6: 21-29 



6: 14-16 



1-6 



9: 7- 



6:30-44 



9: 10-17 



6: 1-14 



SYNOPTICAL TABLE OF THE GOSPEL HISTORY. 



159 



A.U.C. C. C. C. 



Month and Day. 



CONTENTS. 



782 29 A.D. 



782 



April. 



29 A.D. 



Summer. 



8.3. 



84. 



87. 



0(1 



the morning walks upon the sea to 
rejoin the disciples, who had been 
driven from their course by a storm 
and were unable to make the land. 
Having rescued -Peter, who attempts 
to walk upon the water to meet him, 
they both enter the boat, and imme- 
diately come to the shore in the land 
of Gennesaret 

The people of Gennesaret, when 
they learned that Jesus had landed 
on their coasts, bring unto him their 
sick, who are healed by only touch- 
ing the hem of his garment 

Those whom he had fed, and who 
had spent the night upon the eastern 
shore, return and seek him at Caper- 
naum, whither he goes. In answer 
to his question how he came over the 
sea, he discourses to them concerning 
the bread of life. His words are so 
offensive to many of his followers 
that they henceforth forsake him. 
The twelve continue with him, but 
he declares that one of them is a 
devil 



TI. The Third Tear of our Lord's Public 
Ministry. 

A. HIS STAT IN GALILEE TILL HIS FINAL DE- 
PARTURE FROM THENCE, IMMEDIATELY 
AFTER THE FEAST OF THE 
TABERNACLES. 

He avoids attending the third 
Passover at Jerusalem 

While at Capernaum some of the 
scribes and Pharisees, who had come 
from Jerusalem, see his disciples 
eating with unwashed hands, and 
find fault. This leads to a discus- 
sion of pharisaic traditions, and 
sharp reproofs of their hypocrisy.... 

Leaving Capernaum he goes with 
the twelve into the coasts of Tyre and 
Sidon, avoiding all publicity. But 
he could not be hid; and he answers 
the importunate prayer of a Syrophe- 
nician woman for her daughter 

K,eturning to the region of Decap- 
olis, he heals a man that was deaf and 
had an impediment in his speech, and 
many others, and feeds a multitude 
of over four thousand persons 

The Pharisees and Sadducees again 
demand a sign. He reproves their 
hypocrisy, and declares that no sign 
should be given unto them but the 
sign of the prophet Jonas 

Leaving them he enters a ship, and 
again departs toward the lake toward 
Bethsaida. Upon the way he cautions 
his disciples against the leaven of the 
Pharisees, i.e., against their doctrines. 



14: 22-34 



14: 35, 36 



6: 45-53 



6: 54-56 



6: 15-21 



6: 22-71 



"I: 1 

(Com. 

.6: 4.) 



15: 1-20 



15: 21-28 



15: 29-39 



16: 1-4 



16: 5-12 



7: 1-23 



7: 24-30 



7:31-8:10 



8:11,12 



8: 13-21 



160 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



A.U.C. C. C. C. 



782 



29A.D. 



Summer. 



7*2 



29A.D 



Month and Day. 



Autumn . 



91 



92. 



93. 



94 



95 



97 



100. 



CONTENTS. 



Arriving at Bethsaida he heals a 
blind man and sends him home priv- 

"y 



From Bethsaida he goes with his 
disciples to Cesarea Philippi. On 
the way he asks them, "Who do 
men say that I am?" and, being an- 
swered, he proposes the same ques- 
tion to them. Peter, as spokesman 
of his fellow-apostles, professes their 
faith in Jesus being the Christ, the 
Son of the living God ; and Christ 
gives him the great promise concern- 
ing his Church, and the keys of the 
kingdom of heaven, forbidding them 
at the same time to publish that 
truth 

He now foretells them his ap- 
proaching rejection by the Jews, his 
passion and death, and his resurrec- 
tion after three days, and rebukes 
Peter for being offended at this an- 
nouncement. He then addresses the 
disciples and the people, teaching 
them what is involved in following 
him, and speaking of the rewards he 
would give his followers when he 
should come again in the glory of 
his Father. He adds, that some 
standing before him shall see him 
coming in his kingdom, that is, the 
beginning of his kingdom on earth... 

Six days after he goes to a high 
mountain, taking with him Peter, 
James, and John, and is transfig- 
ured before them 

Descending from the mount, he 
explains, in an answer to their ques- 
tion, how Elias must be the forerun- 
ner of the Messiah 

At the foot of the mountain they 
meet the other apostles, surrounded 
by a multitude, among whom were 
scribes, questioning with them. The 
Lord heals a lunatic child, whom the 
apostles had not been able to heal.... 

Departing thence, Jesus passes 
through Galilee, avoiding, as far as 
possible, public attention, and in- 
structing his disciples again con- 
cerning his death and resurrection ; 
but they do not understand him, and 
are afraid to ask 

After his return to Capernaum he 
provides miraculously for the Temple 
tax 



The disciples contend who should 
be the greatest. Jesus exhorts them 
to humility, forbearance, and broth- 
erly love 

Soon after this he goes up to Jeru- 
salem secretly to attend the Feast of 
Tabernacles 



16: 13-20 



16: 21-28 



17: 1- 



17: 10-13 



17: 14-29 



17:22,23 



17: 24-27 



18: 1-35 



8: 22-26 



8: 27-30 



9: 18-21 



8: 31-9: 1 



9: 2-10 



9: 22-27 



9: 28-36 



9: 11-13 



9: 14-28 



9: 37-42 



9: 30-32 



9: 43^5 



9: 33-50 



9: 46-50 



7: 2-10 



SYNOPTICAL TABLE OF THE GOSPEL HISTORY. 



161 



A.U.C. C. C. C. 



782 



29 A. D. 



782 



29A.D 



MontL. and Day. 



October llth-18th. 



November. 



101 



102. 



103. 



104 



105 



106, 



107 



108. 



109. 



110 



CONTENTS. 



During the first few days of the 
feast there was much inquiry among 
the people concerning Jesus, and his 
probable appearance at the feast, but 
no one spoke openly through fear of 
the Jews 

After his arrival at Jerusalem he 
went into the Temple and taught. 
His enemies wish to arrest him, but 
do not; and many people believe on 
him 



Upon a subsequent day of the feast 
the Pharisees attempt to arrest him, 
but it fails 

Having spent the night at the 
Mount of Olives, the Lord returns 
in the morning to the Temple. The 
scribes and Pharisees bring an adul- 
teress before him, whom he does not 
condemn, but directs to go and sin 
no more 

He continues his teaching in the 
Temple, reproves the unbelieving 
Jews, and escapes from their hands.. 

As he goes he meets and heals a 
blind man who had been blind from 
his birth, and it was the Sabbath. 
So soon as this miracle was reported 
to the Pharisees, they call him and 
his parents, examine him and cast 
him out. He afterward meets Jesus, 
and believes, and worships him 

Some Pharisees who are present 
ask him a question, to which he re- 
plies in the parable of the Good 
Shepherd. There is a great division 
of sentiment among the Jews in re- 
gard to him 

[From this feast the Lord returned, 
most probably, once more to Galilee 
for a short time ; though there is no 
positive proof of it in the Gospels. 
Most of the harmonists suppose that 
he spent the interval, between the 
feasts of Tabernacles and of Dedica- 
tion, at Jerusalem or in its vicinity. 
See note on Matthew xix, 1.] 

B. OUR LORD'S FINAL DEPARTURE FROM GAL- 
ILEE TO HIS ARRIVAL IN BETHANY. 

The time when he should be re- 
ceived up, approaching — that is, with 
the end of his earthly career before 
him — the Lord prepares to go to Je- 
salem 

He sends messengers before him, 
who, entering a Samaritan village, 
are rejected by the inhabitants. He 
reproves his angry disciples, James 
and John, and departs to another 
village 

He replies to one who proposes to 
follow him 



19: 



10: 



9: 51 



9: 52-56 
9: 61, 62 



7: 11-13 



7: 14-31 



7: 32-53 



i: 1-11 



8: 12-59 



9: 1-38 



9:39- 
10: 21 



11 



162 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



A.U.C. C. C. C. 



782 



29A.D. 



782 



29 A.D. 



Month and Day. 



November. 



December. 



111. 



112. 
113. 



114. 



115. 



116 



117. 



lis 



119. 



120 



121 



122. 



123 



124. 



CONTENTS. 



He now sends out seventy of bis 
disciples to go, two and two, into 
every city and place wbere he him- 
self would eome 

His instructions to them , 

They depart and return again with 
joy, most probably not only once but 
from time to time. Our Lord's reply 

to them 

He follows in their step, journey- 
ing through Perea toward Jerusalem, 
and attended by great multitudes, 

whom he teaches and heals 

On the way he instructs a lawyer 
concerning the love of our neighbor, 
and relates the parable of the Good 

Samaritan 

One of his disciples asks for a form 
of prayer. He teaches his disciples 

again to pray 

He heals a dumb demoniac. The 
Pharisees accuse him of casting out 
devils through Beelzebub. He re 
plies to them, and while he is speak 
ing a woman in the crowd blesses 
him. He continues to discourse to 
the multitude on the desire for signs 
[Compare with remarks on No. 66.] 
He dines with a Pharisee and 
sharply rebukes pharisaical hypoc- 
risy. The Pharisees are greatly en- 
raged 

He admonishes his disciples again 
to beware of the leaven of the Phar- 
isees, and to fear God only 

A certain man desires Jesus to 
induce his brother to divide the in- 
heritance with him. He denies the 

request 

He adds a warning against eovet- 
ousness, and relates the parable of 

the Rich Fool 

He further admonishes his disci- 
ples to watch for the coming of the 
Son of man, and after answering a 
question of Peter proceeds to address 
the people respecting their inability 

to discern the signs of the times 

Being told of the murder of the Gal- 
ileans by Pilate, he replies, and adds 

a parable respecting the fig-tree 

While teaching in the synagogue 
on the Sabbath, he heals a woman 
who had "been sick eighteen years. 
He is rebuked for this by the master 
of the synagogue, but ]outs him to 

shame 

[Luke inserts here the parables of 
the mustard-seed and leaven. It is 
not improbable that our Lord re- 
peated these parables, but why they 
were spoken here is not explained 

to us 



MARK. LUKE. 



Ch. Ver. Cll. Ve 



19: 



10: 1 

10: 2-16 



10: 17-24 



10: 25-37 



11: 1-13 



11: 14-36 



11: 37-54 



12: 1-12 



12:13,14 



12: 15-34 



12: 35-59 



13: 1-9 



13: 10-17 



13:18-21] 



SYNOPTIGAL TABLE OF THE GOSPEL HISTORY. 



163 



A.U.C. C. C. C. 



Month and Diiy. 



CONTENTS. 



782 



iA.D. 



December. 



7S3 



30A.D. 



February , 



125. 



12ii. 



127, 



128. 



129. 



130. 



131. 

132. 

133, 
134, 



He continues his journey toward 
Jerusalem, and replies to the ques- 
tion of one who asked him, "Are 
there few that be saved?" 

The same day he replies to certain 
Pharisees who warn him against 
Herod's design to kill him 

On his way to the Feast of Dedica- 
tion at Jerusalem he passes through 
the village of Bethany, and visits 
Mary and Martha 

Having reached Jerusalem, and 
walking in the Temple, the Jews de- 
mand that he declare plainly whether 
he is, or is not, the Messiah. He an- 
swers them by referring to his past 
words and works. The Jews, accus- 
ing him of blasphemy, take up stones 
to stone him. But he escapes from 
them, and goes again beyond Jordan 
and abides there. Many resort unto 
him and believe in him 

He is invited to break bread with 
one of the chief Pharisees on the 
Sabbath day, and" there heals a man 
who had the dropsy. After having 
defended the lawfulness of the act, 
he reproves the guests for choosing 
the highest seats, and reminds his 
host of his duty to the poor, and 
speaks the parable of the Great Sup- 
per. As he journeyed on, great mul- 
titudes went with him, and he ad- 
dresses them on self-denial required 
in disciples 

Publicans and sinners coming in 
large numbers to hear him, the scribes 
and Pharisees complain of his re- 
ceiving them. He, therefore, utters 
the parables of the Lost Sheep, of 
the Lost Piece of Silver, and of the 
Prodigal Son 

For his disciples he adds the para- 
ble of the Wasteful Steward, with 
admonitions concerning the faithful 
use of worldly goods 

He rebukes the deriding Pharisees, 
and utters the parable of the Rich 
Man and Lazarus 

He addresses his disciples on of- 
fenses, forgiveness, and faith 

Lazarus, the brother of Mary and 
Martha, being sick, they send a mes- 
sage to the Lord, in Perea, to inform 
him of his sickness. After receiving 
the message he abides still two days 
in the place where he was. Taking 
the disciples with him, he then goes 
to Bethany and raises Lazarus from 
the dead. Many of the Jews pres- 
ent believed on him ; but others, de- 
parting to Jerusalem, tell what had 
occurred to the Pharisees. A council 



13: 22-30 



13: 31-35 



10: 38-42 



10: 22-42 



14: 1-35 



15: 1-32 

16: 1-13 

16: 14-31 
17: 1-10 



164 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



A.U.C. C. C. C. 



Month and D;iy. 



783 



30 A. D. 



March , 



135. 



136, 
137, 

138 
139 

140, 
141, 

112 



143, 

144, 



145, 



146, 



147, 



CONTENTS. 



is summoned, and Caiaphas, the 
high-priest, advises that he should 
be put to death. Jesus, learning 
this, goes with his disciples to a eity 
called Ephraim ; and his enemies 
give a commandment, that if any 
man know where he is, he should 
show it, that they might take him.. 

In Ephraim the Lord abides with 
the disciples till the approach of the 
Passover. A little before the feast 
many went up from the country to 
Jerusalem to perform the necessary 
purifications, and there was much 
discussion as to the probability of 
his presence. He leaves Ephraim 
for Jerusalem, passing along the 
border line of Samaria and Galilee... 

Upon the way he meets and heals 
ten lepers 

Being asked by the Pharisees when 
the kingdom of God should come, he 
gives them a warning admonition of 
his judicial coming 

Jesus exhorts to perseverance in 
prayer 

To certain self-righteous persons 
he speaks the parable of the Phari- 
see and the Publican 

He replies to a question of the 
Pharisees respecting divorce 

He receives and blesses little chil- 
dren 

A rich young ruler inquires how 
he may inherit eternal life. Jesus 
bids him sell all he has, and follow 
him; but he went away sorrowful. 
Our Lord proceeds to address the 
disciples upon the dangers incident 
to riches. In answer to a question 
of Peter, he speaks of the rewards 
that should be given to the twelve, 
and to all faithful disciples 

He adds the parable of the Labor- 
ers in the Vineyard 

He announces to the twelve pri- 
vately, and for the third time, his 
approaching death and resurrection; 
but they do not understand his words, 
being amazed and full of fear 

Afterward James and John, with 
their mother, Salome, ask seats of 
honor in his kingdom. He denies 
their request 

In sight of Jericho — on entering, 
according to Luke, on departing, ac- 
cording to Matthew and Mark — he 
heals two blind men sitting by the 
way, begging, who implore him, as 
the son of David, to help them 

Entering Jericho, he meets Zac- 
cheus, and goes to his house, where 
he remains during the night. In 



19: 3-12 
19: 13-15 



19:16-30 
20: 1-16 

20: 17-19 
20: 20-28 

20: 29-34 



10: 2-12 
10: 13-16 



10: 17-31 



10: 32-34 



10: 35^5 



10:46-52 



17: 11 
17: 12-19 

17: 20-37 
18: 1-1 

18: 9-14 
18: 15-17 



18: 18-30 



18: 31-34 



' 18: 35- 
19: 1 



(11:1-54 
! -57 



11: 55, 56 



SYNOPTICAL TABLE OF THE GOSPEL HISTORY. 



165 



A.U.C. C. C. C. 



Month and Day. 



CONTENTS. 



783 



30 A.D 



783 



783 



30 A. D, 



30 A. D. 



C Friday ev'n'g, 
•j March 31st, or 
(,8th of Nisan, 



( Saturday ev'g, 
\ April 1st, or 
(9th of Nisan. 



Sunday, April 

2d, or 
10th of Nisan. 



148. 



149. 



150 



783 



30 A.D. 



Monday, April 

3d, or 
11th of Nisan. 



1 01 



152. 



783 



30 A.D. 



( Tuesday, Apr. 
\ 4th, or 
1 12th of Nisan. 



153 



154, 



If) 5. 



156. 



the morning, when about to depart, 
he speaks to the people the parable 
of the Ten Pounds. The same even- 
ing he reaches Bethany 



C. FROM HIS ARRIVAL AT BETHANY TO HIS 
DEATH AND BURIAL. 

Arriving at Bethany, he abides 
there for the night. The next day 
he sups with Simon, a leper — Laza- 
rus, Martha, and Mary being pres- 
ent. . Here he is anointed by Mary, 
while Judas and others murmur at 
so great waste 

That evening many come out of 
Jerusalem to see him and Lazarus. 
The rulers in the city, hearing this, 
consult how they may put Lazarus 
also to death 

Leaving Bethany, he sends to 
Bcthphage for an ass upon which to 
ride, and, sitting upon it, he enters 
Jerusalem amid the shouts of his 
disciples and of the populace. As 
he looks upon the city from the 
Mount of Olives, he weeps over it. 
All the city is greatly moved, and 
the Pharisees desire him to rebuke 
his disciples. He visits the Temple, 
but, after looking around him, leaves 
it, and goes with the twelve to Beth- 
any to pass the night 

Jesus, leaving Bethany early with 
his disciples, was hungry, and, be- 
holding a fig-tree by the way which 
had no fruit, he pronounced a curse 
upon it 

Proceeding to the city, he enters 
the Temple and purifies it. He heals 
there the blind and lame, and the 
children cry, " Hosanna to the Son 
of David!" His reproofs enrage the 
priests and scribes, who seek to de- 
stroy him. In the evening he re- 
turns again to Bethany 

Returning to the city in the morn- 
ing with his disciples, they saw the 
fig-tree dried up from the roots, and 
this leads Jesus to speak to them re- 
specting the power of faith 

As he entered the Temple the 
Pharisees ask him by what author- 
ity he acts. He replies by a ques- 
tion respecting the baptism of John, 
and adds the parable of the Two 
Sons and of the Wicked Husband- 



The Pharisees wish to arrest him, 
but are afraid of the people. He 
utters the parable of the King's Son. 

The Pharisees and Herodians pro- 
pose to him the question concerning 
the lawfulness of tribute to Ctesar.... 



19: 2-28 



26: 6-13 



14: 3-9 



21: 1-11 



21:18,19 



11: 1-11 



11: 12-14 



19: 29-44 



21: 12-17 



21: 20-22 



11: 15-19 



11: 20-26 



19:45-48 



21:23-46 



22: 1-14 



22: 15-22 



11: 27-) 
12: 12) 



12: 13-17 



20: 1-18 



20: 19 



20: 20-26 



12: 1-9 



12:10,11 



12: 12-19 



166 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



A.U.C. C. C. C. 



783 



30 A. D, 



783 



30 A.B. 



783 



30 A. D. 



Month and Day. 



( Tuesday, Apr, 
\ 4th, or 
( 12th of Nisan. 



[Wedn'sd'y, Ap. 5 

fThursd'y, Ap ' 
< 6th, or 

(^ 14th of Nisan 



Thursday evening. 



157 



158, 



159, 



100 



J 01 



162, 



163 



164. 



165, 



L66, 



167. 



168, 



CONTENTS. 



The Sadducees question him re- 
specting the resurrection of the dead 

A lawyer inquires concerning the 
chief commandment , 

He asks the Pharisees how the 
Messiah can both be the son and the 
Lord of David, and they are put to 
silence 

He then denounces the hypocrisy 
of the scribes and Pharisees, and 
pronounces his lamentation over Je- 
rusalem 

After this he watches the people 
casting in their gifts, and praises 
the poor widow who cast in two 
mites 

Some Greeks desiring to see him, 
he prophesies of his death. A voice 
is heard from heaven. He utters a 
few touching farewell admonitions, 
and leaves the Temple 

As he goes out, the disciples point 
out to him the size and splendor of 
the buildings, to whom he replies, 
that all shall be thrown down 

Ascending the Mount of Olives, he 
seats himself and answers the ques- 
tion concerning his coming again, 
and the end of the world 

He adds, that after two days was 
the Passover, when he should be be- 
trayed. He goes to Bethany, and 
the same evening his enemies hold 
a council, and agree with Judas re- 
specting his betrayal 

The Lord seemed to have been in 
seclusion at Bethany.] 

He sends Peter and John from 
Bethany into the city to prepare 
the Passover. He describes a man 
whom they should meet, and who 
should show them a room, furnished, 
where they should make ready for 
the supper. He remains at Bethany 
till toward evening 

Thursday evening he enters the 
city and goes to the room where the 
supper was to be eaten. As the dis- 
ciples are about to take their places 
at the table, he observes a strife 
among them for precedency and 
seats of honor. To rebuke them, 
he arose and, girding himself, pro- 
ceeded to wash their feet 

Afterward, while they were eating, 
he declares one of them should be- 
tray him. The apostles begin to 
ask, anxiously, "Is it I?" The 
Lord describes the traitor as one 
that is eating with him, but with- 
out designating him further. Peter 
makes a sign to John to ask him 
who it was, which he does, and 



22: 23-33 
22: 34^0 

22: 41-46 

23: 1-39 



24: 1, 2 



(24:3-) 
125:46) 



(26:1-5) 
( 14-16 j 



26: 17-19 



26: 20 



12: 18-27 
12: 28-34 

12: 35-37 

12: 38-40 

12: 41-44 



13: 1,2 



13: 3-37 



(14:1, 
110,1 



14: 12-16 



14: 17 



20: 27-40 



20: 41-44 



20:45-47 



21: 1-4 



21: 5,6 



21: 7-36 



22: 1-6 



12: 20-50 



22: 7-13 



22: 14-) 

18; 244 

30j 



13: 1-17 



SYNOPTICAL TABLE OF THE GOSPEL HISTORY. 



167 



A.U.C. C. C. C. 



Month and Day. 



CONTENTS. 



783 



30 A. D. 



( Thursd'y ev'g, 
I April 6th, or 
(l4th of Nisan. 



169. 



iro 



in 



783 



30 A.D 



Thursday night.. 



172. 



173, 



Jesus gives him privately a sign, 
and, clipping the sop, hands it to 
Judas, who asks, "Is it I?" Jesus 
answers him affirmatively, and he 
immediately goes out to make ar- 
rangements for the arrest of his 
Master. The apostles who do not 
understand the case are surprised... 

After the departure of Judas the 
Lord proceeds to the institution of 
the Eucharist 

After the supper Peter makes prot- 
estations of fidelity ; but the Lord 
announces to him that before the 
cock should crow he should deny 
him. He informs the disciples of 
the perils that await them, and they 
bring to him two swords 

He proceeds to address to them 
words of encouragement, and an- 
swers the questions of Thomas and 
Philip. He adds the promise of the 
Comforter, and, calling upon them 
to arise and depart with him, he 
continues his address to them as 
they stand around him, and ends 
with a prayer 

After they had sung a hymn, Je- 
sus goes with his disciples over the 
brook Cedron to the Garden of Geth- 
semane, where he awaits the coming 
of Judas. Having arrived at the 
Garden, he retires with them to a se- 
cluded spot. Here he begins to be 
heavy with sorrow, and, leaving the 
three, goes alone to pray. Return- 
ing, he finds them asleep. Leaving 
them, he again prays, and in his 
agony sweats a bloody sweat, but is 
strengthened by an angel. Again 
returning to the three disciples, he 
finds them asleep. He goes a third 
time and prays, and, returning, an- 
nounces the approach of Judas 

Upon the arrival of Judas and 
those with him, Jesus, accompanied 
by the apostles, goes forth from the 
Garden to meet him. Judas, com- 
ing forward before the others, kisses 
him as a sign to them. Addressing 
Judas with the words, "Betrayest 
thou the Son of man with a kiss?" 
he advances to the multitude and 
demands of them whom they seek. 
At their reply, " Jesus of Naza- 
reth," he answers, "I am he," and 
they go backward and fall to the 
ground. Again he asks the same 
question, and receives the same reply. 
He now requests that the apostles 
may go free. As they proceed to 
take and bind him, Peter smites a 
servant of the high-priest, but the 



26: 21-25 



26: 26-29 



14: 18-21 



14: 22-25 



22: 21-23 



22:19,20 



13: 18-30 



26: 31-35 



14: 27-31 



22: 31-38 



13: 31-38 



14-17: 



26: 30;) (14: 26;) 
36-46J J 32-42f 



22: 39^6 



18: 1 



168 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



A.U.C. C. C. C. 



783 



30 A. D. 



Monlh and Day. 



' Friday mor'g, ' 
April 7th, or 
15th of Nisan, 
(before the 
break of day.)_ 



783 



I 
30 A.D.I 



f Friday mor'g, 1 
{ (at daybreak.) J 



174 



175 



176, 



177. 



178, 



CONTENTS. 



Lord heals the wound. Beholding 
their Master in the power of his en- 
emies, all the apostles forsake him 
and flee, and also a young man who 
had followed him. He reproaches 
the multitude that they had come to 
arrest him as a thief 

From the Garden Jesus is first 
taken to the house of Annas, and, 
after a brief delay there, to the pal 
ace of Caiaphas, Peter and John fol 
lowing him. Here, while the council 
is assembling, he is subjected to a 
preliminary examination respecting 
his disciples and doctrines. The 
council being assembled, he is put 
on trial. As the witnesses disagree, 
and no charge can be proved against 
them, he is adjured by Caiaphas to 
tell whether he be the Christ. Upon 
his confession, he is condemned as 
guilty of blasphemy. During this 
period Peter, who had followed him 
with John to the high-priest's pal- 
ace, denies him, and, reminded of 
his words by the crowing of the 
cock, goes out to weep 

After the Sanhedrim had pro- 
nounced him guilty of blasphemy, 
and therefore worthy of death, it 
suspends its session to meet at break 
of day. During this interval Jesus 
remains in the high-priest's palace, 
exposed to all the ridicule and in- 
sults of his enemies, who spit upon 
him and smite him 

As soon as it was day the Sanhe- 
drim again assembles, and, after 
hearing his confession that he is the 
Christ, formally adjudges him to 
death. Binding him, they lead him 
away to the Roman Governor, Pon- 
tius Pilate, that he may execute the 
sentence 

Judas Iscariot, learning the issue 
of this trial, and that Jesus was 
about to be put to death, returns the 
money the chief priests had given 
him, and hangs himself 

The members of the Sanhedrim 
who led Jesus to Pilate, refuse to 
enter the judgment hall, lest they 
should be defiled ; and thereupon he 
comes out to them and asks the na- 
ture of the accusation. They charge 
him with being a malefactor, and 
Pilate directs them to take him and 
judge him themselves. As they can 
not inflict capital punishment, they 
bring the charge of sedition, and 
Pilate, reentering the judgment hall, 
and, calling Jesus, examines him. 
Satisfied that he is innocent, Pilate 



26: 47-56 



14: 43-52 



26: 57- 
66; 69 



75J 



26: 67-63 



27: 1, 2 



27: 3-10 



22: 47-53 



(14:53- 

04; 66 
( 72 



14: 65 



15: 



18: 2-12 



22: 54-62 



22: 63-65 



(22: 66) 
1-23: 1} 



18: 13-27 



SYNOPTICAL TABLE OF THE GOSPEL HISTORY. 



169 



A.U.C. C. C. C. Month and Day. 



CONTENTS. 



783 



30A.D 



Friday mor'g, 
April 7th, or 
15th of Nisan, 
(bef're9o'elk.) 



179 



180. 



181 



783 



30A.D. 



f Friday mor'g, 1 
l(after9o'cl'k.)J 



182 



183 



goes out and affirms that he finds no 
fault in him 

The Jews renewing their accusa- 
tions, to which Jesus makes no re- 
ply, and mentioning Galilee, Pilate 
sends him to Herod, who was then 
in Jerusalem; but Jesus refuses to 
answer his questions, and is sent 
back to Pilate. The latter now re- 
sorts to another expedient. He seats 
himself upon the judgment-seat, and, 
calling the chief -priests and elders, 
declares to them that neither him- 
self nor Herod had found any fault 
in him. According to custom, he 
would release him ; but the multi- 
tude beginning to cry that he should 
release Barabbas, not Jesus, he leaves 
it to their choice 

During the interval while the peo- 
ple were making their choice, his 
wife sends a message of warning to 
him. The people, persuaded by the 
priests and elders, reject Jesus and 
choose Barabbas ; and Pilate, after 
having made several efforts in vain 
to change their decision, at last gives 
orders that Jesus be scourged pre- 
vious to crucifixion 

This was done by the soldiers with 
mockery and abuse; and Pilate, go- 
ing forth, again takes Jesus and 
presents him to the people. The 
Jews continue to demand his death, 
now upon the ground that he made 
himself the Son of God. Terrified 
at this new charge, Pilate again 
takes Jesus into the hall to ask him, 
but receives no answer. Pilate still 
strives earnestly to save him, but is 
met by the cry that he would not be 
Caesar's friend. Yielding to fear, he 
ascends the tribunal, and, calling 
for water, washes his hands in token 
of his innocence, and then gives di- 
rections that he be taken away and 
crucified. As he comes forth, he 
presents him to them as their king. 
They cry, "Crucify him!" and he is 
led away to the place of crucifixion.. 

He is led without the city to a 
place called Golgotha, bearing his 
cross. Falling exhausted under the 
burden, the soldiers compelled Simon 
of Cyrene, whom they met, to bear 
it for Jesus. To some women, fol- 
lowing him and weeping, he speaks 
words of admonition, and foretells 
the judgments about to come upon 
Jerusalem 

He is being affixed to the cross, 
and they give him wine mingled 
with gall, but he refuses. Two mal- 



27: 



11 



15: 



23: 2-4 



18: 28-38 



27: 12-18 



15: 3-10 



23: 5-19 



18:39,40 



27: 19-23 



15: 11-14 



23: 20-24 



27: 24-31 



15: 15-20 



23: 



25 



19: 1-16 



27: 32 



15: 



21 



23: 26-31 



19: 17 



170 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



A.U.C. C. C. C. 



783 



783 



7y:. 



30 A. D. 



30 A.D. 



30 A.D. 



7 S3 



Month and Day. 



Friday mor'g, 
April 7th, or 
15th of Nisan, 
(after 9o'cl'k.) 



Friday noon. 



Friday, 3 o'el'k,) 
P. M. J 



30 A.D. 



184. 



1S5. 



186 



1ST 



188 



Saturday, Ap. 

8th, or 
16th of Nisan. 



190 



CONTENTS. 



efactors are crucified with him, one 
on the right hand and one on the 
left. He prays his Father to forgive 
those that nailed him on the cross. 
The inscription placed over his head 
displeases the Jews, but Pilate re- 
fuses to change it. The soldiers who 
keep watch at the foot of the cross 
divide his garments among them- 
selves 

He is reviled and derided by the 
people as they pass by the cross. 
One of the malefactors reproves the 
other for joining in this mockery, 
and prays Christ to remember him. 
Beholding his mother standing near 
by with John, he commends him to 
her as her son 

Darkness now overspreads the 
land, and Jesus exclaims, "My 
God, my God, why hast thou for- 
saken me?" The supernatural dark- 
ness prevails from the sixth to the 
ninth hour. He thirsts and receives 
drink 

After he had drank, he says, "It 
is finished," commends his spirit to 
God, and expires. At this moment 
the vail of the Temple is rent, the 
earth shakes, rocks are rent and 
graves opened. The centurion bears 
witness that he was the Son of God. 
The people, and the women from 
Galilee that had followed him, re- 
turn, smiting their breasts 

Soon after the Lord had expired 
the chief-priests came to Pilate, re- 
questing that the bodies might be 
taken down before sunset, because 
the next day was the Sabbath. In 
consequence of their request the legs 
of the two malefactors are broken to 
hasten their death ; but Jesus, being 
found already dead, is pierced with 
a spear in the side 

In the mean time Joseph of Ari- 
mathea goes to Pilate, and, inform- 
ing him that Jesus was already 
dead, asks his body for burial ; and 
Pilate, after satisfying himself that 
he was actually dead, orders the 
body to be given to him 

Aided by Nicodemus, Joseph took 
the body, and, winding it in linen 
cloths with spices, laid it in his own 
sepulcher in a garden near the cross, 
and shut up the sepulcher. Some 
women beheld where he was laid, 
and, returning home, prepared spices 
and ointments, that they might em- 
balm him after the Sabbath was past. 

Early on the Sabbath the ecclesi- 
astical authorities obtain permission 



27: 33-38 



27: 39-44 



27: 45-49 



27: 50-56 



27: 57, 58 



27: 59-61 



15: 22-28 



15:29-32 



15: 33-36 



15:37-41 



15:42-45 



15:46,47 



23: 32-34 



23: 35^3 



23:44,45 



23:46-49 



23: 50-52 



23: 53-56 



19: 18-24 



19: 25-27 



19:28,29 



19: 



30 



19: 31-37 



19; 



38 



19: 39-42 



SYNOPTICAL TABLE OF THE GOSPEL HISTOEY. 



171 



A.U.C. C. C. C. 



783 30 A. D. 



783 30 A. D. 



Month and Day. 



{ Saturday ev'g, 
April 8th, or 
16th of Nisan. 



Sunday, April 

9th, or 
17th of Nisan. 



101 



192 



193 



194. 



195 



196, 



197. 



199 



200 



CONTENTS. 



from Pilate to seal up the sepulcher, 
and to place a watch, lest the disci- 
ples should steal the body 

"When the Sabbath was past Mary 
Magdalene, and Mary the mother of 
James and Salome, buy spices to 
embalm the body of Christ 



VII. From the Resurrection to the 
Ascension. 

As the day began to dawn there 
was a great earthquake ; and an an- 
gel of the Lord, descending, rolled 
away the stone from the door of the 
sepulcher, and sat upon it. Terror- 
stricken, the soldiers fall to the 
ground 

Soon after came Mary Magdalene 
and the other women to embalm the 
body, and find the sepulcher open... 

Mary Magdalene, first beholding 
the stone rolled away, and supposing 
that the body had been removed by 
the Jews, runs to find Peter and 
John to inform them 

The other women proceed to the 
sepulcher, and there meet an angel, 
who tells them of the Lord's resur- 
rection, and gives them a message to 
the disciples 

Soon after they had departed, Pe- 
ter and John come in haste to see 
what had occurred, and Mary fol- 
lows them. Entering the sepulcher 
they find it empty, and the grave 
clothes lying in order; John be- 
lieves, and they leave the tomb to 
return, but Mary remains behind, 
weeping. Looking into the sepul- 
cher she sees two angels, and imme- 
diately after the Lord appears to 
her, and gives her a message to bear 
to the disciples 

Before the other women return the 
Lord also appears to them 

The accounts of the women are 
not believed 

Upon the return of the soldiers 
from the sepulcher into the city, the 
priests and elders, hearing what had 
taken place, bribe them to spread 
the report that the disciples had 
stolen the body 

Early in the afternoon two of the 
disciples leave Jerusalem for Em- 
maus. As they go, Jesus joins him- 
self to them, and converses with 
them till they reach the village. At 
their urgent request he sits down 
to eat with them ; and, as he is 
breaking the bread, their eyes, which 
were holden that they should not 
know him, are opened, but he 



27: 62-66 



28: 2-4 



28: 1 



28: 5-8 



28: 9,10 



28: 11-15 



16: 



16: 2-A 



24: 1, 2 



20: 1-2 



16: 5- 



\ 24: 3-9 



16: 9 



16:10,11 



24: 12 



20: 3-18 



24: 10, 11 



172 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



A.U.C. C. C. C. Month and D:iy. 



783 



783 



783 



783 



30 A.D. 



30 A.D. 



30 A. D. 



30 A.D 



('Sunday eve'g, 
< April 9th, or 
(l7th of Nisan. 



('Sunday, April 
1 16th, or 
I 24th of Nisan. 



( Latter part of 
< April, orbegin- 
l^ning of May. 



j Thursday, May J 
(18th. I 



201. 



202. 



203 



204, 



205 



20C, 



207. 



CONTENTS. 



immediately vanishes out of their 
sight 

They return at onee to Jerusalem, 
and find the eleven and others gath- 
ered together, who meet them with 
the announcement that the Lord is 
risen indeed, and has appeared unto 
Simon. Nevertheless some disbe- 
lieve their accounts of having met 
the Lord on the way to Emmaus... 

AVhile they were yet speaking Je- 
sus himself stood in their midst, 
although the doors were shut, and 
saluted them. He convinces them 
of the reality of his bodily presence 
by showing them his hands and his 
feet, and by eating before them. He 
breathes upon them and says unto 
them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. 
He openeth the Scriptures to their 
understanding 

After eight days Jesus again ap- 
peared to the assembled apostles, 
Thomas, who had before been ab- 
sent, now being with them. By 
showing him the prints of the nails 
and the spear, as he had demanded, 
and desiring him to touch them, the 
Lord convinces him of the reality of 
his resurrection ; and Thomas ac- 
knowledges him as his Lord and his 
God 



The apostles having returned to 
Galilee, the Lord appears to seven 
of them while engaged in fishing on 
the lake. The miracle of the great 
draught of fishes is repeated. After 
he had eaten with them, he asks 
Peter, three times, whether he loved 
him, before he commissioned him to 
feed his flock 

[About this time, it is most prob- 
able, our Lord was seen of James. 
(1 Corinthians xv, 7.)] 

After this the Lord meets the great 
body of his disciples, (1 Cor. xv, 6,) 
upon a mountain in Galilee, and com- 
mands that the Gospel be preached 
throughout the world 

A few days after the meeting upon 
the mountain the apostles return to 
Jerusalem, accompanied by Jesus' 
mother and brethren. Upon the for- 
tieth day after his resurrection Jesus 
gathers the eleven at the Mount of 
Olives, and, leading them toward 
Bethany, ascends to heaven. (Com- 
pare Acts i, 9-12.) 

The apostles go back to Jerusa- 
lem, and there wait for the promised 
baptism of the Holy Ghost 



28: 16-20 



16: 12 



24: 13-32 



16: 13 



24: 33-35 



16: 14 



24: 36-48 



20: 19-23 



20: 24-29 



21: 1-23 



16: 15-18 



10: 19 



16: 20 



24: 49-51 



24: 52, 53 



INDEX OF REFERENCE TO THE SYNOPTIC TABLE. 



173 



D. A TABLE 

FOR FINDING THE CHRONOLOGICAL PLACE IN THE SYNOPSIS OF THE GOSPEL HISTORY 
OF ANY PASSAGE IN THE GOSPELS. 



MATTHEW. 


CHAPTER. 


VERSES. 


NUMBER. 


CHAPTER. 


VERSES 


| NUMBER. 
1 


CHAPTER. 


VERSES. 


NUMBER. 


I. 


1-17 


Genealogy. 


XII. 


46-50 


67 


XXII. 


41-46 


159 




18-25 


5 


XIII. 


1-53 


68 


XXIII. 


1-39 


160 


II. 


1-12 


12 




54-58 


77 


XXIV. 


1, 2 


163 




13-15 


13 


xrv. 


1, 2 


80 




3-51 


164 




16-18 


14 




3- 5 


45 NOTE. 


XXV. 


1-46 


164 




19-22 


15 




6-12 


79 


XXVI. 


1- 5 


165 




23 


16 




13-21 


81 




6-13 


148 


III. 


1-12 


20 




22-34 


82 




14-16 


165 




13-17 


21 




35, 36 


83 




17-19 


166 


IV. 


1-11 


22 


XV. 


1-20 


86 




20 


167 




12,17 


45 




21-28 


87 




21-25 


168 




13-16 


46 




29-39 


88 




26-29 


169 




18-22 


47 


XVI. 


1- 4 


89 




30 


172 




23-25 


50 NOTE. 




5-12 


90 




31-35 


170 


V. 




59 




13-20 


92 




36-46 


172 


VI. 




59 




21-28 


93 




47-56 


173 


VII. 




59 


XVII. 


1- 9 


94 




57-66 


174 


VIII. 


1 


59 




10-13 


95 




67,68 


175 




2- 4 


51 




14-21 


96 




69-75 


174 




5-13 


60 




22,23 


97 


XXVII. 


1, 2 


176 




14-17 


49 




24-27 


98 




3-10 


177 




18-22 


70 


XVIII. 


1-35 


99 




11 


178 




23-27 


71 


XIX. 


1 


108 




12-18 


179 




28-34 


72 




2 


114 




19-23 


180 


IX. 


1 


73 




3-12 


140 




24-31 


181 




2- 8 


52 




13-15 


141 




32 


182 




9 


53 




16-30 


142 




33-38 


183 




10-17 


74 


XX. 


1-16 


143 




39-44 


184 




18-26 


75 




17-19 


144 




45-49 


185 




27-34 


76 




20-28 


145 




50-56 


186 




35-38 


78 




29-34 


146 




57,58 


188 


X. 


1- 4 


58 


XXI. 


1-11 


150 




59-61 


189 




5-42 


78 




12-17 


152 




62-66 


190 


XI. 


1 


78 




18,19 


151 


XXVIII. 


1 


193 




2-19 


63 




20-22 


153 




2- 4 


192 




20-30 


63 NOTE. 




23-46 


154 




5- 8 


195 


xn. 


1- 8 


54 


XXII. 


1-14 


155 




9,10 


197 




9-14 


55 




15-22 


156 




11-15 


199 




15-21 


56 




23-33 


157 




16-20 


205 




22-45 


66 




34-40 


158 








MAKE. 


CHAPTER. 


VERSES. 


NUMBER. 


CHAPTER. 


VERSES. 


NUMBER. 


CHAPTER. 


VERSES. 


NUMBER. 


I. 


1- 8 


20 


in. 


7-12 


56 


VI. 


17-20 


45 NOTE. 




9-11 


21 




13-19 


58 




21-29 


79 




12,13 


22 




20,21 


61 




30-44 


81 




14, 15 


45 




22-30 


66 




45-53 


82 




16-20 


47 




31-35 


67 




54-56 


83 




21-28 


48 


rv. 


1-34 


68 


vn. 


1-23 


86 




29-34 


49 




35 


69 




24-30 


87 




35-39 


50 




36-41 


71 




31-37 


88 




40-45 


51 


v. 


1-17 


72 


VIH. 


1-10 


88 


n. 


1-12 


52 




18-20 


73 




11,12 


89 




13,14 


53 




21-43 


75 




13-21 


90 




15-22 


74 


VI. 


1- 6 


77 




22-26 


91 




23-28 


54 




7-13 


78 




27-30 


92 


in. 


1- 6 


55 




14-16 


80 




31-38 


93 



174 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



MARK— CONTINUED. 


CHAPTER. 


VEESES. 


NUMBER. 


CHAPTER. 


VERSES. 


NUMBER. 


CHAPTER. 


VERSES. 


NUMBER. 


IX. 


1 


93 


XII. 


28-34 


158 . 


XV. 


2 


178 




2-10 


94 




35-37 


159 




3-10 


179 




11-13 


95 




38-40 


100 




11-14 


180 




14-29 


96 




41-44 


161 




15-20 


181 




30-32 


97 


XIII. 


1, 2 


163 




21 


182 




33-50 


99 




3-37 


164 




22-28 


183 


X. 


1 


108 


XIV. 


1, 2 


165 




29-32 


184 




2-12 


140 




3- 9 


148 




33-36 


185 




13-16 


141 




10,11 


165 




37-41 


186 




17-31 


142 




12-16 


166 




42-45 


188 




32-34 


144 




17 


167 




46,47 


189 




35-45 


145 




18-21 


168 


XVI. 


1 


191 




46-52 


146 




22-25 


169 




2- 4 


193 


XI. 


1-11 


150 




26 


172 




5- 8 


195 




12-14 


151 




27-31 


170 




9 


196 




15-19 


152 




32-42 


172 




10,11 


198 




20-26 


153 




43-52 


173 




12 


200 




27-33 


154 




53-64 


174 




13,14 


201 


XII. 


1-12 


154 




65 


175 




15-18 • 


205 




13-17 


156 




66-72 


174 


19 


206 




18-27 


157 


XV. 


1 


176 


20 


207 


LUKE. 


CHAPTER. 


VEESES. 


NUMBER. 


CHAPTER. 


VERSES. 


NUMBER. 


CHAPTER. 


VERSES. 


NUMBER. 


I. 


1- 4 


Preface. 


VIII. 


4-18 


68 


XVI. 


14-31 


132 




5-22 


1 




19-21 


67 


XVII. 


1-10 


133 




23-25 


2 




22 


69 




11 


135 




26-38 


3 




23-25 


71 




12-19 


136 




39-56 


4 




26-37 


72 




20-37 


137 




57-79 


6 




38,39 


73 


XVIII. 


1- 8 


138 




80 


19 




40-56 


75 




9-14 


139 


II. 


1- 5 


7 


IX. 


1- 6 


78 




15-17 


141 




6- 7 


8 




7- 9 


80 




18-30 


142 




8-20 


9 




10-17 


81 




31-34 


144 




21 


10 




18-21 


92 




35-43 


146 




22-38 


11 




22-27 


93 


XIX. 


1 


146 




39,40 


16 




28-36 


94 




2-28 


147 




41-51 


17 




37-42 


96 




29-44 


150 




52 


18 




43-45 


97 




45-48 


152 


III. 


1-18 


20 




46-50 


99 


XX. 


1-18 


154 




19,20 


45 NOTE. 




51 


108 




19 


155 




21-23 


21 




52-56 


109 




20-26 


156 




24-38 


Genealogy. 




57-60 


70 




27-40 


157 


IV. 


1-13 


22 




61,62 


110 




41-44 


159 




14, 15 


45 


X. 


1 


111 




45-47 


160 




16-31 


46 




2-16 


112 


XXI. 


1- 4 


161 




32-37 


48 




17-24 


. 113 




5, 6 


163 




38-41 


49 




25-37 


115 




7-38 


164 




42-44 


50 




38-42 


127 


XXII. 


1- 6 


165 


T. 


1-11 


47 


XI. 


1-13 


116 




7-13 


166 




12-16 


51 




14-36 


117 




14-18 


167 




17-26 


52 




37-54 


118 




19,20 


169 




27,28 


53 


XII. 


1-12 


119 




21-23 


168 




29-39 


74 




13,14 


120 




24-30 


167 


VI. 


1- 5 


54 




15-34 


121 




31-38 


170 




6-11 


55 




35-59 


122 




39-46 


172 




12 


57 


XIII. 


1- 9 


123 




47-53 


173 




13-16 


58 




10-17 


124 




54-62 


174 




17-49 


59 




18-21 


124 NOTE. 




63-65 


175 


VII. 


1-10 


60 




22-30 


125 




66-71 


176 




11-17 


62 




31-35 


126 


XXIII. 


1 


176 




18-35 


63 


XIV. 


1-35 


129 




2- 4 


178 




36-50 


64 


XV. 


1-32 


130 




5-19 


179 


VIII. 


1- 3 


65 


XVI. 


1-13 


131 




20-24 


180 



INDEX OF REFERENCE TO THE SYNOPTIC TABLE. 



175 



LUKE— CONTINUED. 


CHAPTER. 


TEKSES. 


NUMBER. 


CHAPTER. 


VERSES. 


NUMBER. 


CHAPTER. 


VERSES. 


NUMBER. 


XXIII. 


25 


181 


XXIII. 


50-52 


188 


XXIV. 


13-32 


200 




26-31 


182 




53-56 


189 




33-35 


201 




32-34 


183 


XXIV. 


1, 2 


193 




36-48 


202 




35-43 


184 




3- 9 


194 




49-51 


206 




44,45 


185 




10,11 


198 




52,53 


207 




46-49 


186 




12 


197 








JOHN. 


CHAPTER. 


VERSES. 


NUMBER. 


CHAPTER. 


VERSES. 


NUMBER. 


CHAPTER. 


VERSES. 


NUMBER. 


I. 


1-18 


Introduction. 


V. 


17-47 


44 


XIII. 


31-38 


170 




19-28 


23 


VI. 


1-14 


81 


XIV. 




171 




29-34 


24 




15-21 


82 


XV. 




171 




35,36 


25 




22-71 


84 


XVI. 




171 




37-40 


26 


VII. 


1 


85 


XVII. 




171 




41,42 


27 




Comp. vi, 4 




XVIII. 


1 


172 




43-51 


28 




2-10 


100 




2-12 


173 


II. 


1-11 


29 




11-13 


101 




13-27 


174 




12,13 


30 




14-31 


102 




28-38 


178 




14-17 


31 




32-53 


103 




39,40 


179 




18-22 


32 


VIII. 


1-11 


104 


XIX. 


1-16 


181 




23-25 


33 




12-59 


105 




17 


182 


III. 


1-21 


34 


IX. 


1-38 


106 




18-24 


183 




22 


35 




39-41 


107 




25-27 


184 




23-36 


36 


X. 


1-21 


127 




28,29 


185 


IV. 


1 


37 




22-42 


138 




30 


186 




2 


35 


XI. 


1-54 


134 




31-37 


187 




3 


37 




55,56 


135 




38 


188 




4-26 


38 




57 


134 




39-42 


189 




27-42 


39 


XII. 


1- 9 


148 


XX. 


L 2 


194 




43-45 


40 




10, 11 


159 




3-18 


196 




46-54 


41 




12-19 


150 




19-23 


202 


V. 


1 


41 




20-50 


162 




24-31 


203 




2- 9 


42 


XIII. 


1-17 


167 


XXI. 


1-25 


204 




10-16 


43 




18-30 


168 


1 







THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW. 



12 



INTRODUCTION 



TO 



THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW. 



§ 1. Its Authorship. 

The superscription is " The Gospel according to Matthew." The four records of the 
life and discourses of our Lord, the historical foundation of the Christian religion, were 
by the primitive Church called The Gospel, that is, the good news or glad tidings, and 
they were considered not so much as four specifically-different histories or gospels, but 
as one history, one gospel from four different stand-points, designated by Irenseus (Adv. 
Haer., Ill, 11, 8) as rerpd/iopcpov to sbayyihov. When the name of the respective author 
■was afterward added to each, the authorship was very properly expressed by the prepo- 
sition xard, according. If by this preposition it had been designed to express a more 
remote relationship, not direct authorship, it would be unaccountable, why the Gospels ac- 
cording to Mark and to Luke should not have been designated as Gospels according to 
Peter and Paul, inasmuch as the general tradition asserted them to have been published 
under the direction and authority of these apostles. 

That the apostle Matthew wrote a Gospel has never been called into question, as we 
see from the unanimous testimony of the Fathers from the beginning to the close of the 
second century. (See §§ 8 and 9 of our General Introduction.) But whether this Gospel 
was originally composed in Hebrew or in Greek is a point on which scholars and critics 
are still divided. From Eusebius (H. E., Ill, 39) we learn that Papias, Bishop of Hier- 
apolis in Phrygia, in the beginning of the second century, declares Matthew to have written 
in Hebrew rd ).6yta, a term by which we can not well understand any thing else than an 
account of the life as well as the sayings of our Lord, inasmuch as Papias explains the 
term, when he speaks of Mark, by adding rd v-zb zoo Xpiazoo ij XtyJ^hza ij icpa%{Hvza. Though 
Papias was a man of weak judgment, as Eusebius expressly says, we find his testimony on 
this point indorsed by Lengeus, Origines, Eusebius, Jerome, Epipbanius, and others. Yet 
Papias may have mistaken the heretical gospel according to the Hebrews for a supposed 
Hebrew original of Matthew, and those writers may have been misled by him. There is 
evidence, at least, that Jerome once believed the Hebrew MS. in the Cagsarean library to be 
the original Gospel of Matthew, but subsequently found reason to doubt this. But those 
who maintain a Greek original rest principally on the internal evidence furnished by the 
Gospel itself, as Alford shows on the following grounds : 

"1. The present Greek text stands on precisely the same footing as that of the other 

Gospels, is cited as early, and as constantly as they are. 

179 



180 INTRODUCTION TO THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW. 

"2. The hypothesis of a translation from the Hebrew altogether fails to account for 
the identity observable in certain parts of the text of the three synoptic Gospels. For the 
translator must either have been acquainted with the other two Gospels — in which case 
it is inconceivable that in the midst of the present coincidences in many passages such 
divergences should have occurred — or unacquainted with them, in which case the identity 
itself would be altogether inexplicable. 

"3. A further observation of the coincidences and divergences is said to confirm the 
view of a Greek original. The synoptic Gospels mainly coincide in the discourses and 
words of our Lord, but diverge in their narrative portions; and while verbal identity is 
found principally in the former, the latter present the phenomena either of independent 
translations from the same original, or of independent histories. 

"4. Again, whereas the Evangelists themselves, in citing the Old Testament, usually 
quote from the Hebrew text, our Lord in his discourses almost uniformly quotes the Sep- 
tuagint, even where it differs from the Hebrew. This is urged as tending to establish 
the Greek original of Matthew ; for if the Gospel were really written in Hebrew for the 
use of the Jews, it is not conceivable that the citations would be given in any but the 
Hebrew text; and equally inconceivable that the translator would have rendered them 
into the language of the LXX in our Lord's discourses, while he retained the Hebrew 
readings in the narrative. 

"5. But the same fact would also tend to establish that our Lord spoke usually in 
Greek — that Greek was the language commonly used and generally understood by the Jews 
of Palestine — and, consequently, that the composition of a Hebrew Gospel for the early 
Jewish- Christians would be unnecessary and in the last degree improbable." 

For a further critical examination of the arguments on both sides we must refer the 
reader to Alford's Prolegomena and other learned works. Even if the question should 
be decided in favor of a Hebrew original, the canonical authority of our Greek Matthew 
would not be affected by it, for it maintained that authority undisputed from the first. 
The disappearance of the Hebrew original, provided it ever existed, can easily be accounted 
for, inasmuch as the Greek language soon supplanted the Aramaic Hebrew, especially 
after the destruction of Jerusalem ; and the heretics corrupted at an early period the sup- 
posed Hebrew Gospel of Matthew to such an extent that it lost all canonical authority. 

Dr. William Thomson, Archbishop of York, in his article on " The Gospel of Matthew,'" 
in Dr. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, closes his discussion with these words : " With these 
arguments we leave a great question unsettled still, feeling convinced of the early accept- 
ance and the apostolic authority of our ' Gospel according to St. Matthew ;' and far from 
convinced that it is a reproduction of another Gospel from St. Matthew's hand. May not 
the truth be that Papias, knowing of more than one Aramaic gospel in use among the Ju- 
daic sects, may have assumed the existence of a Hebrew original from which these were 
supposed to be taken, and knowing also the genuine Greek Gospel may have looked on all 
these — in the loose, uncritical way which earned for him Eusebius's description — 'as the 
various interpretations ' to which he alludes ? It is certain that a gospel, not the same as 
our canonical Matthew, sometimes usurped the apostle's name ; and some of the witnesses 
we have quoted appear to have referred to this in one or other of its various forms or 
names. The Christians in Palestine [not all] still held that the Mosaic ritual was binding 
on them, even after the destruction of Jerusalem. At the close of the first century one 



INTRODUCTION TO THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW. 181 

party existed who held that the Mosaic law was only binding on Jewish converts — 
this was the Nazarenes. Another, the Ebionites, held that it was of universal obligation 
'on Christians, and rejected St. Paul's Epistles as teaching the opposite doctrine. These 
two sects, who differed also in the most important tenets as to our Lord's person, pos- 
sessed each a modification of the same Gospel, which, no doubt, each altered more and 
more as their tenets diverged, and which bore various names — the Gospel of the Twelve 
Apostles, the Gospel according to the Hebrews, the Gospel of Peter, or the Gospel ac- 
cording to Matthew. Enough is known to decide that the Gospel according to the 
Hebrews was not identical with our Gospel of Matthew. But it had many points of 
resemblance to the synoptic Gospels, and especially to Matthew. What was its origin it 
is impossible to say ; it may have been a description of the oral teaching of the apostles, 
corrupted by degrees ; it may have come in its early and pure form from the hand of Mat- 
thew, or it may have been a version of the Greek Gospel of St. Matthew, as the Evangel- 
ist who wrote especially for the Hebrews. Now, this Gospel did exist ; is it impossible 
that when the Hebrew Matthew is spoken of, this questionable document, the Gospel of 
the Hebrews, was really referred to? Observe that all accounts of it are at second- 
hand — with a notable exception: no one quotes it; in case of doubt about the text, Ori- 
gen even does not appeal from the Greek to the Hebrew. All that is certain is, that 
Nazarenes or Ebionites, or both, boasted that they possessed the original Gospel of Mat- 
thew. Jerome is the exception ; and him we can convict of the very mistake of confound- 
ing the two, and almost on his own confession." 

On the genuineness of the Gospel, in general, see General Introduction §§ 5, 6 ; that 
of the first two chapters, which have been assailed by some critics who admit the apostol- 
ical antiquity of the rest, is satisfactorily established on the following grounds : 1. All the 
old MSS. and versions contain them ; and they are quoted by the Fathers of the second 
and third centuries, and the day has passed, it may be hoped, when a passage can be 
struck out, against all the MSS. and the testimony of early writers, for subjective im- 
pressions about its contents. 2. Their contents form a natural part of a Gospel intended 
primarily for the Jews. 3. The commencement of chapter iii is dependent on ii, 23 ; and 
in iv, 13, there is a reference to ii, 23. 4. In construction and expressions they are sim- 
ilar to the rest of the Gospel. 

§ 2. Personal Notices op the Author. 

In Mark ii, 14, his father is called Alpheus ; from this some have supposed that he was 
a brother of James the Less ; but as Atyheus was a very common name, and as in none of 
the lists of the apostles (Matt, x, 3 ; Mark iii, 18 ; Luke vi, 15 ; Acts i, 13) Matthew is 
grouped together with James the Less, there is no ground for this supposition. From a 
comparison of Matthew ix, 9, with Mark ii, 14, and Luke v, 27, it appears plainly that 
the two names Matthew and Levi belong to the same person ; for Levi, who is undoubt- 
edly called to the apostleship, is found in none of the lists of the apostles, and his place 
can not be supplied by any other than Matthew, who appears in all the lists. Following 
a pretty general custom of his countrymen to change their names at decisive epochs of 
life, Levi assumed at his call to the apostleship the name of Matthew, and this new name 
supplanted the old name altogether, as was the case with Peter and Paul. According 



182 INTRODUCTION TO THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW. 

to Gesenius the names Matthaios and Matthias are both contractions of Mattathias — mean- 
ing, gift of Jehovah — a common Jewish name after the exile; but the true derivation 
is not certain. 

There is no doubt that, as he lived at Capernaum, he had heard Jesus, and believed 
in him, before he was called to the apostleship. He was so greatly rejoiced at his call, 
that he made a great feast for his fellow-publicans, to which Jesus was invited with his 
disciples. Dr. Lange remarks, "that a man who shows the mind of so true an Israelite 
and so thorough an acquaintance with the Old Testament, as Matthew, would never have 
accepted the despised office of a Roman custom officer in utter disregard of the national 
prejudices, if he had not learned very early to distinguish between the outward form and 
the substance of the Mosaic economy, and that he was thereby peculiarly qualified to 
write the first Gospel, designed mainly for Jewish believers." 

Of his apostolic labors the New Testament is silent. Clement of Alexandria says 
that he preached the Gospel at Jerusalem for fifteen years after the ascension. Euse- 
bius writes, that he then left Judea and preached the Gospel to other nations. Accord- 
ing to Heracleon, who wrote in the second century, he died a natural death, and this is 
implicitly confirmed by Clement, Origen, and Tertullian, who mention only Peter, Paul, 
and James the Greater as martyrs among the apostles. 

§ 3. The Time when he wrote his Gospel. 

The precise time when Matthew wrote his Gospel can not be determined. The primi- 
tive Church, however, held unanimously that Matthew wrote first of all the Evangelists. 
Clement of Alexandria, although dissenting from the present order of our Gospels, yet 
assigned the first place to Matthew. From the remarks of the Evangelist, in chapters 
xxvii, 8, and xxviii, 15, we may infer that a considerable series of years must have in- 
tervened between the resurrection of our Lord and the time when the Evangelist wrote. 
There is, on the other hand, internal evidence, that the Gospel was written sometime 
before the year 66, when the Jewish war broke out that terminated with the destruction 
of Jerusalem. For it is psychologically inconceivable, that the Evangelist could have 
given us the discourse of our Lord in chapter xxiv, in the manner he has, if the detailed 
prediction concerning this fearful catastrophe had already begun to be fulfilled when he 
wrote. Among the conflicting statements of the Fathers, that of Irenseus, that Matthew 
wrote his Gospel while Paul was at Rome, is the most probable. This would bring the 
date between 50 and 60. 

§ 4. The peculiar Character and Object op the first Gospel. 

The Gospel itself tells us by plain internal evidence that it was written for Jewish 
converts, not only in Palestine, but all over the world. Its diction is more Hebraistic 
than that of the other Gospels. A full acquaintance with Jewish customs and manners, 
with the geography and topography of the Holy Land, is, with a few exceptions, (chap, i, 
23; xxvii, 8; xxxiii, 46,) presupposed, while Mark and Luke generally add explanatory 
notes. The chronology is taken, unlike that of Luke, from the Jewish, not from uni- 
versal history. Jerusalem goes by the august name — the Holy City. The etymological 



INTRODUCTION TO THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW. 183 

reference in i, 21, and the typical use of the word Nazar in ii, 23, were intelligible to 
Jewish readers. Only a few names of extraordinary importance are explained, (i, 23 ; 
xxvii, 33,) and the cry of Christ on the cross is translated, (xxvii, 46.) 

These linguistic peculiarities are in full consonance with the object which the author 
evidently had in view; namely, to furnish ample proof to the Jews that Jesus was the 
promised Messiah of the Old Testament. This is seen in the very beginning, the geneal- 
ogy of Jesus being traced only to Abraham, on which Lange remarks : " The first Gospel 
connects the New Testament most intimately with the Old, not by a list of the books of 
the Old Testament, but by the Old Testament genealogy of Jesus. In this way the union 
between the Old and the New Testament is made indissoluble, and the truth is set forth, 
that Divine revelation was carried on, not merely through written documents, but also 
through living personalities — the seed of Abraham — till it found its completion in the 
incarnation of the Son of God." 

In developing this fundamental idea the author adds to this genealogy the proofs that 
in Jesus the Messianic prophecies have been fulfilled. Jesus Christ is the son of David 
and the seed of Abraham, (i, 1; comp. ix, 27; xii, 23; xv, 22; xx, 30; xxi, 9, 15;) is born 
at Bethlehem of a virgin, (i, 22 ; ii, 6 ;) must flee to Egypt, and be recalled thence, (ii, 15 ;) 
groweth up in Nazareth, (ii, 23 ;) has John for his forerunner, (hi, 3 ; xi, 10 ;) labors in the 
despised Galilee, (iv, 14 ;) his power to heal was a promised mark of his Messianic office, 
(viii, 17; xii, 17, etc.,) and so was his mode of teaching in parables, (xiii, 14, 35;) he 
holds' his Messianic entry into Jerusalem, (xxi, 5-16 ;) is rejected by his people, (xxi, 42,) 
and deserted by his disciples, (xxvi, 31-56) — all according to the prophecies of the Scrip- 
tures. He is, therefore, the great King of Israel, of whom David was but a faint type ; 
to Him is given all power in heaven and on earth; and He is that seed of Abraham in 
whom all nations should be blessed; he, therefore, commands his apostles to go into all 
the world and disciple all nations, promising to them and their successors to be with them 
to the end of time, and raising the typical kingdom of Israel to the universal kingdom 
of God. Jesus Christ is thus the center and end of all theocratic developments, in whom 
are fulfilled the prophecies, types, and shadows of the old dispensation, and who is him- 
self the fulfiller of the law and the prophets, (v, 17-19 ; vii, 12 ; xxii, 40.) For this very 
reason there must be an irreconcilable conflict between him and the degenerate Juda- 
ism of his times, which culminates in his total rejection. The all-pervading idea of Mat- 
thew is, in short, " The complete fulfillment of the Messianic idea of Israel in the person 
and history of Jesus Christ, appearing in constantly-increasing opposition to the corrupt 
Judaism of those days." 

Olshausen compares this Gospel with that of John as follows : " In the Gospel of Mat- 
thew, considered as a whole, we behold its author as a man that is completely carried 
away by the overwhelming grandeur of Jesus' whole appearance. The Son of God, whom 
Matthew, as well as the other apostles, beholds in Jesus of Nazareth, is represented by 
him as the King of Israel ; while in the portraiture of John he appears in flowing robes 
of fight, corresponding to the glory of the beloved Son of the Father. As this can not 
be said of the Gospel of Matthew, the ancients were not wrong in calling the Gospel of 
Matthew the bodily, and that of John the spiritual — Gospel — by which name, however, 
they did not design to detract from Matthew's Gospel; but as the Redeemer was the 
Logos incarnate, it was necessary for a complete exhibition of this holy life to delineate 



184 INTRODUCTION TO THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 

not only its Divine, but also its human and national side, and this is done in the first 
Gospel." To this we add the remark of Ebrard : " Matthew embodies in his Gospel the 
substance of what the twelve apostles had preached by word of mouth to the people of 
Israel, furnishing the proof that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised seed of Abraham, 
(Gen. xv,) and the promised son of David, (2 Sam. vii ;) in other words, the Messiah. To 
the apprehension of this truth the Israelites had first to be brought, before the mystery 
of Christ's eternal Godhead could be more fully set forth. First his historical relation 
to prophecy — then his higher relation to God, to the universe, and to universal history ! 
This accounts fully for the Christology of Matthew's Gospel, which sets forth promi- 
nently the human side of the Redeemer, and that from a Jewish stand-point." 

§ 5. The Arrangement and Division of its Contents. 

In his narrative of facts and sayings of our Lord the Evangelist is not governed by 
the chronological sequence. He generally groups together what is nearly related to each 
other in substance, frequently without regard to the connection in which the events took 
place. 

It seems to have been the peculiar gift of the Spirit to him to record most fully the 
longer discourses of the Lord, and especially those which set forth the character and privi- 
leges of the citizens of the kingdom of heaven. Of this description are the Sermon on the 
Mount, the parables recorded in chapter xiii, and the other polemical and prophetic parables 
in chapters xxi-xxv, also the apostolic commission, (chap, x,) the discourse concerning the 
Baptist, (chap, xi,) that on blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, (chap, xii,) and that on some 
characteristics of the Church, (chap, xviii.) The whole Gospel falls into four principal 
divisions ; namely, 1. The history of the birth and childhood of Jesus, (chaps, i, ii.) 2. 
The preparation for his public ministry, (chaps, iii-iv, 11.) 3. His public ministry in 
Galilee, (chap, iv, 12-xviii, 35.) 4. The last journey to Judea, the close of his public 
ministry, his death, and resurrection, (chap, xix-xxviii, 20.) 

In our Commentary we have divided the whole Gospel into sections, each of which 
contains — with but few exceptions — only one discourse or event, so that the reader can 
find, at a glance, in the index, whatever subject he wishes to examine. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

VEESES. PAGE. 

§ 1. The Genealogy of Jesus Christ 1-17 187 

§ 2. An Angel announces to Joseph the Supernatural 

Conception of Jesus 18-25 194 

CHAPTER n. 

§3. The Visit of the Magi 1-12 202 

§4. The Murder of the Infants of Bethlehem, Flight 

into Egypt, and Eeturn to Nazareth 13-23 207 

CHAPTER ni. 

§ 5. The Preaching and Baptism of John 1-12 210 

§6. The Baptism of Jesus 13-17 218 

CHAPTER IV. 

1 7. The Temptation of our Lord in the Wilderness.. 1-11 222 
(8. Our Lord's Formal Opening of his Ministry in 
Galilee, and the Call of Simon, Andrew, James, 
and John into his Permanent Service 12-25 233 

CHAPTER V. 

§9 The Sermon on the Mount _ 239 

A. The Fundamental Coudition of entering into 

and participating in the Kingdom of God.. 1-16 243 

B. The Righteousness required by the Law to be 

fulfilled in the Kingdom of Christ. 17-20 250 

0. The right and genuine Fulfillment of the Law 
as opposed to that taught and practiced by 
Pharisees 21-48 252 

CHAPTER VI. 

D. The True Motive in Good Works — a lively 

Sense of God's Omnipresence and Omnis- 
cience 1-18 260 

E. Ihe Righteousness of the Kingdom of God 

the Supreme Good and the Highest Object 
of Life, to which every Thing must be sub- 
ordinate 19-34 271 

CHAPTER VII. 

F. Warning, addressed to the Disciples of Christ 

especially, against Censorious Judging and 
Indiscriminating Charity 1- 6 275 

G. Various Concluding Remarks 7-29 276 

CHAPTER VIII. 

§10. Jesus heals a Leper 1-4 282 

g 11. Jesus heals the Centurion's Servant 6-13 286 

§ 12. Jesus heals Peter's Mother-in-Law, and Cures 

many that are Sick and possessed of Devils 14-17 288 

§13. Jesus instructs Two Men that desire to follow 

Him, and Calms a Storm 18-27 289 

1 14. Jesus heals Two Demoniacs in the Land of the 

Gergesenes 28-34 291 

CHAPTER IX. 

§15. Jesus heals a Paralytic 1- 8 295 

§16. The Call of Matthew and the Conversation of 



VEESES. PAGE. 

our Lord with some Pharisees and Disciples 

of John at Matthew's Feast 9-17 298 

§ 17. Jesus heals a Woman diseased with an Issue of 

Blood, and raises the Daughter of Jairus 18-26 302 

§18. Jesus heals Two Blind Persons and a Dumb De- 
moniac 27-34 303 

§ 19. Christ pities the Shepherdless People and ex- 
horts to Prayer for Laborers 35-38 304 

CHAPTER X. 

§ 20. The First Mission of the Apostles 1-4 307 

g 21. Our Lord's Instructions to the Apostles 312 

A. Instructions of the Lord with regard to the 

Mission of the Apostles confined to Israel.. 5-15 313 

B. Christ's Instructions with reference to the 

Persecutions awaiting the Apostles 16-23 316 

C. Christ's Instructions, as to the Course to be 

pursued by his Disciples, continued — Rea- 
sons why they should be perseveringly faith- 
ful amid Trials and Sufferings 24^-42 318 

CHAPTER XI. 

§ 22. The Message of John, and the Discourse of Jesus 

on the Occasion 283 

A. The Mission of John's Disciples to Jesus 1- 6 330 

B. Christ's Testimony of John 7-19 331 

C. Woes pronounced by the Lord on the Cities 

of Galilee 20-24 334 

D. The Savior's Invitation to all that labor and 

are heavy laden 25-30 336 

CHAPTER XII. 

1 23. The Disciples pluck Ears of Corn on the Sabbath 

Day 1- 8 342 

§ 24. Jesus heals a Withered Hand on the Sabbath 9-21 344 

§ 25. Miraculous Cure of a Man that was Blind and 
Dumb — The Blasphemy of the Pharisees, and 
their Demand of a Sign from Heaven — Our 
Lord's Warning against the Unpardonable Sin. 22-45 346 

§ 26. Jesus declares who are his True Kindred on 
the Occasion of a Visit from his Mother and 
Brothers 46-50 354 

CHAPTER XIH. 

§27. The Seven Parables of the Kingdom of God 356 

A. The Parable of the Sower 1-23 359 

B. The Parable of the Tares among the Wheat. $ |£j^ j-367 

C. The Parable of the Mustard Seed 31,32 373 

D. The Parable of the Leaven 33-36 374 

E. The Parable of the Treasure hid in a Field.... 44 376 

F. The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price 45,46 377 

G. The Parable of the Draw Net 47-52 378 

§28. Jesus is rejected at Nazareth the Second Time... 53-58 380 

CHAPTER XIV. 

§29. John the Baptist is Beheaded 1-13 383 

§30. The First Miraculous Feeding 14-21 386 

§ 31. Christ walks upon the Lake 22-36 389 

185 



186 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER XV. 

VERSES. PAGE. 

§ 32. A Discussion with the Pharisees concerning the 

Traditions of Men 1-20 394 

§33. The Canaanitish Woman 21-28 399 

§34. The Second Miraculous Feeding 29-39 404 

CHAPTER XVI. 

§ 35. The Pharisees and Sadducees require a Sign from 
Heaven — Christ warneth his Disciples against 
their Leaven 1-12 406 

§ 36. The Confession of Peter and Christ's Declaration 

concerning his Church 13-20 409 

§ 37. The Savior predicts his Death and Resurrection, 
and enjoins upon his Followers to take up his 
Cross 21-28 419 

CHAPTER XVII. 

§38. The Transfiguration of Christ 1-13 428 

§ 39. Jesus heals a Lunatic Boy, made Dumb and Deaf 
by a Demon, whom his Disciples were unable 
to cast out 14-21 435 

§40. The Lord's Second Announcement of his Death 

and Resurrection — Payment of the Temple Tax. 22-27 439 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

§41. Christ enjoins upon his Disciples that which 
should ever characterize the Members of his 
Church 442 

A. Humility, the Source of True Brotherly Love. 1-14 442 

B. Of Evangelical Church Discipline, and Christ's 

Promise to those who meet in his Name 15-20 448 

C. The Gospel Law of Forgiveness, illustrated by 

the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant 21-35 454 

CHAPTER XIX. 

§ 42. Christ's Exposition of the Marriage Relation 1-12 459 

§43. Jesus blesses Little Children 13-15 462 

§44. Answer to the Inquiry of a Rich Young Man, 

and Discourse thereupon 16-30 465 

CHAPTER XX. 

§ 45. The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard 1-16 470 

§ 46. Christ foretells once more his Death — The Ambi- 
tious Bequest of the Mother of the Sons of 

Zebedee 17-28 477 

§47. Restoring Sight to Two Blind Men 29-34 481 

CHAPTER XXI. 

§48. Christ's Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem 1-11 483 

§49. The Cleansing of the Temple 12-17 487 

£ 50. The Barren Fig-Tree Withered, and its Lesson of 

Faith 18-22 491 

§ 51. Christ's Answer to the Question of his Au- 
thority 23-32 493 

§ 52. The Parable of the Wicked Husbandman 33-46 496 

CHAPTER XXII. 

§ 53. The Parable of the Marriage of the King's Son.. 1-14 500 

§54. The Insidious Question concerning Tribute to 

Cffisar 15-22 505 

g 55. Reply to the Sadducees respecting the Resurrec- 
tion 23-33 508 

§56. The Great Commandment 34-40 510 



VERSES. PAGE. 

§ 57. Our Lord's Question concerning the Messiah and 

David 41-46 512 

CHAPTER XXIII. 

§ 58. Christ's Denunciation of the Scribes and Phar- 
isees 515 

A. Warning against the Example of the Scribes 

and Pharisees 1-12 516 

B. The Seven Woes against the Scribes 13-28 518 

C. Conclusion, and Lamentation over Jerusalem. 29-39 521 

CHAPTER XXIV. 

§ 59. Our Lord's Prediction of the Destruction of the 
Temple, and the Disciples' Inquiry about that 
Event... 1- 3 525 

§ 60. Our Lord's Answer to the Question concerning 

his Coming 527 

A. A General Survey of what must precede 

Christ's Judicial Coming 4-14 528 

B. The Premonitory Signs of Christ's Judicial 

Coming 15-28 532 

C. The Judicial Coming of the Son of Man the 

Virtual Beginning of the Final Judgment. 29-36 636 

D. Closing Exhortations 37-51 545 

CHAPTER XXV. 

§ 61. The Parable of the Ten Virgins 1-13 54' 

§62. The Parable of the Talents 14-30 55) 

I 63. The Final Judgment of all Nations 31-46 5£ 

CHAPTER XXVI. 

§ 64. Our Lord foretells the Time of his Death, while 
his Adversaries are yet at a Loss how to bring 

it about 1- 5 i59 

§65. Jesus is anointed at Bethany 6-13 561 

§ 66. Compact of Judas with the High-Priests to be- 
tray Jesus 14-16 563 

§67. The Preparation for the Passover 17-19 565 

§ 68. Our Lord eats the Passover and points out his 

Betrayer 20-25 567 

§69. The Institution of the Lord's Supper 26-3( 570 

§ 70. Christ foretells the Dispersion of the Disciples 

and the Fall of Peter 31-5 581 

§71. Christ's Agony in Gethsemane 36-t6 583 

§72. Jesus arrested in Gethsemane 47-56 590 

§73. Jesus before the High-Priest 57-68 593 

§74. Peter's Denial and Repentance 6S-75 597 

CHAPTER XXVII. 

§ 75. Jesus is led away to Pilate — Remorse and Suicide 

of Judas 1-10 598 

§76. Jesus before Pilate 11-30 602 

§ 77. Jesus on the Cross 31-50 610 

§ 78. The Signs and Incidents following the Death o:' 

Christ— His Burial 51-66 622 

CHAPTER XXVIII. 

§79. Christ is risen from the Dead 1-10 626 

§ 80. The Sanhedrim's Fraudulent Suppression of the 

Soldiers' Testimony 11-15 635 

§ 81. Appearance of the Lord on a Mountain in Gali- 
lee— The Great Commission 16-20 637 

A Dissertation on Christian Baptism 641 



THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW. 

CHAPTEE I. 

§1. THE GENEALOGY OF JESUS CHRIST. 

The prophets having announced the Messiah as the seed of Abraham and the son 
of David, the genealogy of Jesus forms an important portion of Gospel truth. Matthew 
gives us the lineage of Joseph, the reputed father of Jesus, hut no intimation of the 
relation of Mary to the house of David, nor have we any express declaration to this effect 
in the other Gospels. "Whether Luke's genealogical table is intended to give the lineage 
of Mary is not certain, as we shall show in our comments on Luke iii, 23. The early 
Church generally ascribed both genealogies to Joseph, and modern scholars are about 
equally divided on this point. However that may be decided, the reasons why Matthew, 
writing for the Jews, gives prominence to the Davidic descent of Joseph and is silent 
respecting the family of Mary, are obvious: 1. We must assume that the child Jesus -was 
presented in the Temple and recorded in the national register and tables of genealogy as 
the lawful son of Joseph. Had the Jews been informed in his lifetime of his super- 
natural generation, they would certainly have made it the subject of reproach. But in 
all their questions and cavils at his doctrine, in their indignation at his testimony and 
rejection of his claims, there is no allusion to what they would readily have stigmatized 
as evidence of imposture. 2. To have said that Mary was of the house of David, and to 
have cited her genealogy, would in the eyes of the Jews not have sustained a legal claim 
of Jesus to a descent from David, as it was a rule of the Eabbins, and one universally 
recognized, that the descent on the father's side only shall be called a descent; the 
descent by the mother is not called any descent. To prove that Jesus was the rightful 
heir to the promises made to Abraham and to David, it must be established that Joseph, 
Jesus' legal father, was of David's house, for only as the legal son of Joseph could he lay 
such a claim to the Messiahship as the Jews would admit. It was, therefore, of the 
greatest importance, that the legal relation in which Jesus stood to Joseph, as his 
adopted son, should be set in the clearest light, and for this purpose the lineage of his 
mother was of no importance. 

But the question arises, whether the fulfillment of the promise to David concerning 
his seed (2 Sam. vii, 12; Acts ii, 30; xiii, 23; Bom. i, 3) does not demand for our Lord a 
line of natural descent from David through his mother. A writer in the April number 
of the Bibliotheca Sacra of 1861 — George M. Clelland — denies this, and urges the follow- 
ing ingenious argument: "The human ancestry of Jesus could not ascend higher than 
his mother. There was no power in any human descent, or in all humanity together, 
could it have been concentrated as one, to give birth even to the human nature of Jesus 
in the manner in which it was conveyed to him — though the same in substance as that 
of all men — and still less to his whole person. Nor was there any such power in Mary 
of herself, any more than in any other of the daughters of the race; for in no respect 

was she in essence different from or superior to any one of them. It was preeminently 

187 



188 MATTHEW I, 1-17. 



'a new thing' which 'the Lord created in the earth.' (Jer. xxxi, 22.) "While the Son of 
God could not have taken hold of the human nature in reality without a mother, the 
words 'the seed of the woman' imply, even in regard to his humanity, the original and 
underived source of Jesus. The Messiah could have no natural grandfathers or line of 
human ancestry; he was the seed of no man in this sense. And it is remarkable that the 
far-sighted wisdom of God, by which the Scriptures provide for every emergency, had set 
aside any supposed rights of his mother by means of the rule of the Jewish polity, which 
forbade a woman of herself to head a family or to appear in a genealogy. How, then, 
could Jesus be of the seed of David according to the flesh, as Scripture required him to 
be and represents him to have been? In no other way than through his being the son 
of Joseph according to the law, in consequence of Joseph's union with Mary, his mother. 
This was the result of the law of the flesh — that is, of earthly humanity under the Jewish 
law — above that of mere physiology, and constituted the nearest possible approach our 
Lord could make as a person to be of the seed of David according to the flesh, and it 
made him legally of that seed. Before the birth of Jesus, Joseph was commanded to take 
Mary to his house as his wife. It is not enough to say, that this was in order to protect 
Mary. Joseph and Mary, previously joined together by the act of espousals, by this 
further act became perfectly one in God's sight, and it conferred on Joseph the title of 
father, according to the law, of the child about to be, and some time afterward born of 
Mary. The gift of a son. in a most important sense, was to Joseph as well as Mary. 
And God, in so dealing with Joseph's wife, doubtless intended that it should be so. God 
could give Joseph such a gift, and he could accept it, and its character and relations the 
law was at hand to define and maintain. It may be proper to notice the light indirectly 
thrown by the Scriptures on the subject. By a provision of the Jewish law, (Deut. xxv, 
5-10,) when a brother died childless, his surviving brother was commanded to marry the 
widow; 'and it shall be that the first-born son which she beareth shall succeed in name 
of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.' By this means the 
Jews were familiar with the idea of an heir being given to one who was not the real 
father. In their eyes the heir from such a source was as truly such as if born naturally 
to the deceased. We are inclined to think that there is something more than a mere 
analogy between the point of this Jewish law and the gift of a son to Joseph on the part 
of God. The grand truth of Christianity is, that man being dead through sin, and 
incapable by himself of recovery, God gave redemption and salvation by sending his 
own Son, the Lord of Life, into his nature, to serve as a quickening seed therein by his 
Spirit to all who should receive him. Of this truth the Scriptures teem with types and 
illustrations, and it was interwoven with the whole law and customs of the Jews. What 
more apt figure can we find of it than in Joseph, the husband after the flesh, of her of 
whom the Messiah was to be born, taken as representing either the fallen man after the 
flesh or the Jew under the law, or both of them, to whom, as in himself impotent for 
good, and dead in trespasses and sins, God as the- living One raises up the true seed who 
shall save and perpetuate the race about to perish." 

The above argument deserves much consideration, whether Mary herself was or was 
not a descendant of David. The argument does not force us to the conclusion that she 
was not, but that, if she was, her descent from David was not of so much importance as 
that of Joseph. We shall state in Luke the reasons for and against the opinion of his gen- 
ealogy being that of Mary, and show, at the same time, that the apparent inconsistency 
between the two genealogies, if they both should be that of Joseph, may be explained. 
Before passing to another point, we add the following interesting remarks of Mr. 
Andrews, in his "Life of our Lord:" "Whether Joseph and Mary were the only sur- 
viving descendants of David, we have no positive data to decide; but it is not probable; 
for if they had been the sole survivors, this very fact, which could not have been 
unknown, must have made them conspicuous. . . . Yet, on the other hand, the 



THE GENEALOGY OF JESUS CHRIST. 189 

expectation that the Messiah should spring from the house of David was strong and 
general. If the people were really looking for a Messiah descended from that family, 
must not all who were known to he members of it have occupied a large space in public 
attention? Perhaps the following may he the just solution of the difficulty. The 
promise made to David and his house respecting the throne of Israel was not absolute. 
Its fulfillment was to depend upon the condition of obedience. Yet if the condition 
failed the promise was not withdrawn, but its fulfillment was suspended, and the kingly 
claims of the descendants of David were in abeyance. After the return from the 
captivity of Babylon, the house of David, at first prominent in Zerubbabel, fell more and 
more into obscurity. Other families began to be prominent. At last the Maccabees, 
through their wisdom and valor, won the highest place, and became the acknowledged 
heads of the nation. After their decay the family of Herod, through Eoman favor, 
became dominant. During four hundred years no one of David's lineage seems to have 
drawn to himself public attention. Nevertheless, the Messianic hopes of the Jews had, 
during the wars of the Maccabees, and under the usurpation of Herod, been constantly 
gaining in depth and strength. Every -where they began to turn to their Scriptures, and 
to read them with new earnestness and faith. And as the expectation of the Messiah 
became more and more prevalent, it was naturally connected with the promise to David. 
Yet among his descendants there was no one to whom public attention was turned as in 
any way likely to fulfill their hopes. Hence, while a general belief existed that the 
Messiah should be of that family, its individual members continued to live in obscurity. 
And as it was also firmly believed that Elijah, the prophet, must personally come as the 
forerunner of the Messiah, this belief would naturally prevent any special attention 
being turned to them till that prophet actually appeared. Thus Joseph, the carpenter of 
Nazareth, might have been known to be of David's line, and even the legal claimant of 
the throne, and yet live unhonored and unnoticed." 

It is to be presumed that the Evangelists took their genealogical tables from docu- 
ments which the Jews deemed authentic, and which, if they contained any unessential 
inaccuracies or discrepancies, the Evangelist did not feel at liberty to correct. Of the 
existence of genealogical public registers we have a striking incidental proof in the fact 
that, when Augustus ordered the census of the Empire to be taken, the Jews imme- 
diately went each to his own city; that is, to the city to which his tribe, family, and 
father's house belonged. The mention of Zacharias, as " of the course of Abia," of Eliz- 
abeth, as "of the daughters of Aaron," and of Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, as "of 
the tribe of Aser," are further indications of the same thing. And this conclusion is 
expressly confirmed by the testimony of Josephus in the opening of his Autobiography. 
After deducing his own descent, not only from the race which is considered the noblest 
among the Jews, that of the priests-, but from the first of the twenty -four courses — that 
of Jehoiarib — and on the mother's side from the Asmonean sovereigns, he adds : 
"I have thus traced my genealogy as I have found it recorded in the public tables." 
From all this it is abundantly manifest that the Jewish genealogical records con- 
tinued to be kept till near the destruction of Jerusalem. But it may be safely affirmed 
that the Jewish genealogical system then came to an end. Essentially connected as it 
was with the tenure of the land on the one hand, and with the peculiar privileges of the 
houses of David and Levi on the other, it naturally failed when the land was taken 
away from the Jewish race, and when the promise to David was fulfilled and the priest- 
hood of Aaron was superseded by the exaltation of Christ to the right hand of God. 
Nor can it be doubted that the authentic records were destroyed with the destruction 
of Jerusalem, and since no Jew can now show his descent from David, we have another 
proof how utterly groundless the expectations of the Jews concerning a coming Messiah 
have ever been since that event. 

To prepare the reader for the solution of some difficulties, which each of the geneal- 



190 



MATTHEW I, 1-1 7. 



ogies of Christ presents, we premise a few remarks, taken from Smith's Dictionary of 
the Bible, with regard to the nature of the genealogical records in the Old Testament. 
They had respect to political and territorial divisions as much as to strictly genealogical 
descent, and it will at once be seen how erroneous a conclusion it may be that all who 
are called "sons" of such or such a patriarch must necessarily be his very children. 
Just as in the very first division into tribes, Manasseh and Bphraim were numbered with 
their uncles, as if they had been sons instead of grandsons of Jacob. (Gen. xlviii, 5.) 
So afterward the names of persons belonging to different generations would often stand 
side by side as heads of families or houses, and be called the sons of their common 
ancestor. For example, Genesis xlvi, 21, contains grandsons as well as sons of Benja- 
min, and Exodus vi, 24, probably enumerates the son and grandson of Assir as heads, 
with their father, of the families of the Korhites ; and so in innumerable instances. 
If any one family or house became extinct, some other would succeed to its place, called 
after its own chief father. Hence, of course, a census of any tribe, drawn up at a later 
period, would exhibit different divisions from one drawn up at an earlier. Compare, 
e. g., the list of courses of priests in Zerubbabel's time (Neh. xii) with that of those in 
David's time. (1 Chron. xxiv.) The same principle must be borne in mind in interpret- 
ing any particular genealogy. The sequence of generations may represent the succes- 
sion to such or such an inheritance or headship of tribe or family, rather than the rela- 
tionship of father and son. Again: where a pedigree was abbreviated it would naturally 
specify such generations as would indicate from what chief houses the person descended. 
In cases where a name was common, the father's name would be added for distinction 
only. These reasons would be well understood at the time, though it would be difficult 
now to ascertain them positively. Another feature in the Scripture genealogies, which it 
is worth while to notice, is the recurrence of the same name, such as Tobias, Tobit, 
Nathan, Mattatha, and even of names of the same signification in the same family. 

"Verses 1 — VS 1 . 

(1) The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son 1 of David, the son of 
Abraham. (2) Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat 
Judas and his brethren; (3) And Judas begat Phares and Zara 2 of Thamar; and 
Phares begat Esrom ; and Esrom begat Aram ; (4) And Aram begat Aminadab ; 
and Aminadab begat Naasson; and ISTaasson begat Salmon; (5) And Salmon begat 
Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; (6) And 
Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had 
been the wife of Unas ; 3 (7) And Solomon begat Roboam ; i and Roboam begat Abia ; 
and Abia begat Asa; (8) And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; 
and Joram begat Ozias; (9) And Ozias 5 begat Joatham; and Joatham begat 
Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; 6 (10) And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manas- 
ses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; (11) Aucl Josias begat Jechonias and his 
brethren, 7 about the time they were carried away to Babylon : (12) And after they 
were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zoroba- 
bel; 8 (13) And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim 



1 The word " Son " with the Jews means not only a son 
proper, but also any descent. " Son of David " was one 
of the special designations of the Messiah. 2 Phares and 
Zara are mentioned together, because they were twins. 
3 Bathsheba became, after the death of Urias, the lawful 
wife of David, so that Solomon was their legitimate son. 



*OrRehoboam. 5 Or Azariah,(2 Kings xv, 1.) 6 0r Heze- 
kiah, (2 Kings xvi, 20.) 'The reading of several good 
manuscripts is, "And Josias begat Jehoiakim and his 
brothers ; and Jehoiakim begat Jechonias at the time of 
the Babylonian captivity." Compare 1 Chron. xiii, 13-35 
8 Or Zerubbabel, (Ezra iii, 2.) 



THE GENEALOGY OF JESUS CHRIST. 



191 



begat Azor; (14) And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim 
begat Eliud; (15) And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Mattban; and Mat- 
tban begat Jacob; (16) And Jacob begat Josepb tbe busband of Mary, of wbom 
was born Jesus, wbo is called Christ. (17) So all tbe generations from Abraham 
to David are fourteen generations ; and from David until the carrying away into 
Babylon are fourteen generations ; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto 
Christ are fourteen generations. 



Verse 1. The phrase fiifiloq ytviozuq is correctly 
rendered "the Book of the Generation." Genera- 
tion is evidently used in a passive sense, and "the 
Book of the Generation" means the record of the 
birth of Christ and the circumstances attending it. 
In this sense it would be the appropriate heading of 
chapters i and ii. It may, however, also mean, in 
uniformity with Old Testament usage, (Gen. vi, 9 ; 
xxv, 19; xxxvii, 2,) where historiography consisted, 
to a great extent, in filling up genealogies, the his- 
tory of the whole life of Jesus. In this sense it 
would be the heading of the whole Gospel, whose 
very object is to prove that Jesus is the son of David, 
and, through David, of Abraham. — The Old Testa- 
ment begins with the account of the creation of 
the world, the New with that of the incarnation of 
Him who created the world, who, though " his goings 
forth have been from of old, from everlasting," was 
to be born of a woman when the fullness of time had 
come. — Jesus Christ, or, more correctly, Jesus the 
Christ. The word "Jesus" is synonymous with our 
word Savior and the Hebrew Jeshua, abbreviated 
from Jehoshua or Joshua; that is, "Jehovah helps or 
delivers." Our Lord was so named by express com- 
mand of the angel (Verse 21; Luke i, 31.) This 
name was borne, 1. By the son of Nun, the conqueror 
of the promised land; 2. By the son of Iosedech, the 
high-priest, who brought the people back from the 
Babylonian captivity. (Ezra ii, 2; Hag. i, 1.) Both 
of these were called, by the Hellenists, Jesus. (Heb. 
iv, 8.) The word " Christ" — Greek Xpiardc, He- 
brew Mashiach, German Messias, English Messiah- 
signifies "the Anointed," and is the official name 
of Jesus, with reference to his prophetic, priestly, 
and royal offices. (Psalms ii, 2; Dan. ix, 25; Isa. 
Ixi, 1.) Under the old dispensation the kings, high- 
priests, and sometimes the prophets, were conse- 
crated to their respective offices by anointing them 
with oil. This anointing symbolized the Holy Ghost, 
whom Jesus, "the Son of man," received without 
measure, and whose influence upon believers is 
called, by John, the "anointing." In a similar 
sense in which Jesus was called " Christ," believers 
are called " Christians," "Anointed ones." 

Verse 2. Judah and his brethren. Judah is here 
named prominently, because the Savior was to spring 
from his seed; yet his brethren are also mentioned, 
because they had an equal right with Judah to the 
theocratic privileges. 



Verse 5. That Rachab was the mother of Booz 
is not stated in the Old Testament. The Evan- 
gelist must have known it from the private fam- 
ily records of the house of David. According 
to Jewish tradition, eight prophets and priests de- 
scended from her. The high consideration in which 
she was held by the Jews appears also from the 
mention which the New Testament makes of her. 
(James ii, 25; Heb. xi, 31.) Since Rachab lived 
between 300 and 400 years before the birth of David, 
most commentators suppose that several members 
are omitted in this part of the record, a phenomenon 
that is by no means rare in the Old Testament gen- 
ealogies. If we take, however, into consideration the 
great age of Jesse, as indicated 1 Sam. xvii, 12, as 
well as the reasonable conjecture that God may have 
granted to Boaz and Obed, on account of their piety, 
an unusually long life, it appears by no means impos- 
sible that Rachab was literally the great grandmother 
of David. — A writer in the Journal of Sacred Litera- 
ture, 1856, remarks on the differences besetting this 
part of the genealogy: " Between Naasson — who was 
Prince of Judah at the time of the Exodus — and 
the birth of David there intervened four genera- 
tions, Salmon, Boaz, Obed, and Jesse. Now, this 
interval is computed by some at 480 years, and by 
none at less than 405 years, thus to make each gen- 
eration to exceed over at least 100 years. Assuredly 
this is quite beyond the limits of probability ; but in 
Lord Hervey's work we find a fair attempt at recon- 
ciling the chronology with the genealogy. After an 
elaborate examination of the genealogies which bear 
on this point, and by certain probable conjectures 
regarding the corruption of the Hebrew numerals — 
sundry examples of which he gives from the Old 
Testament — he is able, with much appearance of 
truth, to lessen the whole period from the Exodus to 
the death of David, which was not computed at less 
than 455 years, to 240 years, and so giving an average 
of 48 years to each generation. This theory is con- 
firmed by Sir G. Wilkinson in his work on the Egyp- 
tians, and by Dr. Lepsius in his Letters from Egypt. 
The latter shows that the cruel King Pharaoh, men- 
tioned in Exodus, is the same as Ramases I, and, 
therefore, lessens the interval between him and 
David by about 200 years. The latter, after careful 
investigation, comes to the conclusion that the inter- 
val which, we said above, was reckoned by some as 
480 years, is at least 180 years too great." 



192 



MATTHEW I, 1-17. 



Verse 8. The names Ahaziah, Joash, and Ama- 
ziah, which, in 1 Chron. iii, 11, 12, occur between 
Joram and Ozias, are here omitted, probably for no 
other reason than because they were missing in the 
public records. The ground of this omission is 
found by some expositors in their descent from Jez- 
ebel, the wicked daughter of Ethbal, and in their 
own apostasy from Jehovah. As such they were not 
worthy to be numbered with the theocratic princes. — 
In the same way the tribe of Dan is omitted in Rev- 
elation vii, 5-8, probably from its idolatrous char- 
acter. Ozias was the son of Amaziah, yet it is here 
said that Joram begat Ozias. This is in perfect keep- 
ing with the custom of the Jews, to call not only sons 
proper, but also grandchildren and great grandchil- 
dren, sons. Accordingly, a man is said to beget a 
child that was by several generations removed from 
him. (Comp. Isa. xxxix, 7.) 

Verse 11. Between Josias and Jechonias there 
should stand, according to 2 Kings xxiv, 6, and 2 
Chron. xxxvi, 8, Jehoiakim. Josiah had four sons, 
Johanan or Jehoahaz, Eliakim or Jehoiakim, Zede- 
kiah, and Sallum. After the death of Josiah, the 
people made Johanan king; but since the crown, by 
right of two years' seniority, belonged to his brother 
Jehoiakim, Johanan was deposed after a reign of 
three months, by Pharaoh Necho, and carried cap- 
tive into Egypt, where he died, and left the crown to 
Jehoiakim, who had one son, Jechonias. Ebrard, 
Lange, and others maintain that Jehoiakim is omit- 
ted for good reasons, because, under him, the coun- 
try lost its independence, (2 Kings xxiv, 4,) and the 
sovereignty of the theocratic kings ceased. These 
scholars say that, for this reason, Jechonias was 
inserted in place of his father Jehoiakim. In this 
exposition, "his brethren" is taken in the wider 
sense of " kindred," here for his paternal uncles. 
Other commentators are of the opinion that by the 
" Jechonias " of this verse Jehoiakim is meant, who 
had either likewise the name Jechonias or was, 
through an oversight of the Greek copyist, con- 
founded with Jechonias. This might easily happen, 
since, owing to the slight difference between the 
Hebrew Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin, either of these 
names might be rendered, in Greek, Jechonias. Ac- 
cording to this view the words "about the time" 
mark the time, when the people were led into captiv- 
ity, only approximately. For the Babylonish cap- 
tivity was not consummated at once, but in three 
acts, at different times, of which the first took place 
in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, the son of Josias, 
when Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem, and carried 
to Babylon a great number of captives; the second 
under Jechonias, the son of Jehoiakim; the third 
under Zedekiah. — All the difficulties of this passage, 
however, are easily and satisfactorily removed by 
adopting, with Dr. Clarke, Dr. Strong, and others, 
the reading given in foot-note 7. 

Verse 12. According to 1 Chron. iii, 17, Sala- 
thiel was Jechonias' s natural — not legal — son. If 



this Salathiel is identical with the one mentioned by 
Lnke, which is very probable, we have to take Neii 
either for the father-in-law or the grandfather of Sa- 
lathiel, through the wife of Jechonias. Several pas- 
sages of the Scriptures favor this view. It would 
seem that Zorobabel was the son of Salathiel' s 
brother Pedaiah, by the widow of Salathiel, who had 
died without issue. (1 Chron. iii, 19.) 

Verse 13. Abiud, Eliakim, Azor, are not found 
in the Chronicles, but quite different names stand in 
their place. (1 Chron. iii, 19, 20.) The author of 
" Chronicles" has, probably, introduced only those of 
Zorobabel's posterity, who enjoyed public renown, 
and to this class the ancestors of Joseph did not be- 
long. In like manner the other names given in the 
genealogy do not occur in the Old Testament, because 
they were humble members of the fallen family of 
David, and could be found only in the genealogical 
records extant in those days. 

Verse 16. Matthew says, purposely, not as in the 
preceding cases, "Joseph begat Jesus," but calls Jo- 
seph only the "husband of Mart, of whom was born 
Jesus." As Jesus passed among the Jews for a son 
of Joseph, his foster-father, Divine Providence has 
arranged it, that this foster-father of Jesus was a 
descendant of David. 

Verse 17. It has given commentators a great 
deal of trouble to make out the fourteen generations 
in the second and in the third periods. The most 
natural division is, either to commence the third 
group with Jehoiakim, according to the reading in 
foot-note 7, or to count David twice, which, as Alford 
remarks, seems to be demanded by the text. The 
whole passage is set in the clearest light by Dr. J. A. 
Alexander in his Notes on the Gospel of Matthew: 
" The meaning can not be that there were really, in 
point of fact, just fourteen generations in the several 
intervals here mentioned; for we know from the Old 
Testament that four names are omitted in the second 
period, and have reason to believe that others may be 
wanting in the third. It rather means the contrary; 
namely, that, although there were more generations 
in the actual succession, only fourteen are here given, 
for the sake of uniformity, in each of the three peri- 
ods. So far from being a mistake or an intentional 
misrepresentation, it is really a caution to the reader 
against falling into the very mistake which some 
would charge upon the writer. As if he had said: 
' Let it be observed that this is not a complete list of 
all the generations between Abraham and Christ, but 
that some names are omitted, so as to leave fourteen 
in each great division of the history of Israel.' All 
the generations, if extended to the whole verse, may 
then be understood to mean all that are here given ; 
but if restricted to the first clause, which is a more 
probable construction, it may have its strict sense — ■ 
absolutely all — and give a reason for selecting four- 
teen as the measure of the periods; namely, that 
there were really just fourteen generations in the 
first, and that the others were assimilated to it, either 



THE GENEALOGY OP JESUS CHRIST. 



193 



by the genealogist, from whom the pedigree was bor- 
rowed, or by the Evangelist himself. But it still 
remains to be considered, why they are thus divided 
at all. Some say that this was a customary formula 
appended to the ancient genealogies, designed to aid 
the memory, and here retained by the Evangelist 
without change, as a part of the original document 
which he is quoting. Others suppose a mystical 
allusion to the name of David, or to the Scriptural 
use of seven as a sacred number. Besides these 
mnemonical and mystical solutions, there is a chro- 
nological one ; namely, that the periods are equal in 
years, though not in generations, and two of the 
great cycles having been completed, he who was 
born at the close of the third must be the Christ. 
The only other supposition that need to be stated is, 
that the writer's purpose was to draw attention to the 
three great periods in the history of Israel as the 
chosen people, one extending from Abraham as its 
great progenitor to David, its first theocratic sover- 
eign; another to the downfall of the monarchy and 
loss of the national independence; and a third from 
this disaster to the advent of Messiah. Thus under- 
stood, the verse may be paraphrased as follows : ' The 
foregoing table is divided into three parts, the first 
of which embraces fourteen generations, and the 
other two are here assimilated to it, by omitting a 
few names, in order to make prominent the three 
great eras in the history of Israel, marked and di- 
vided by the calUng of Abraham, the reign of David, 
the Babylonian exile, and the birth of Christ, the end 
to which the previous succession pointed.' " 



HOMILETIC SUGGESTIONS. 

The Gospel of Matthew begins with a long list 
of names. But let none look upon the first sixteen 
verses as unimportant. As there is nothing in na- 
ture that does not answer some purpose, be it even 
the smallest insect or plant, so every thing in the 
Bible has its particular purpose and meaning. From 
the genealogy we learn : 

1. That God always keeps his promises. Though 
the descendants of David had been so far reduced in 
their outward circumstances that it almost seemed 
as if God had forgotten his purpose, yet he carried it 
out at a time and in a manner least expected. Let 
this strengthen the faith of the Christian that God 
will fulfill all his promises. Let the sinner also learn 
from this that God will surely execute the sentence 
of death pronounced upon him, " The sonl that sin- 
neth shall die," unless he repent and believe in the 
Lord Jesus Christ. — " The genealogy of Christ," says 
H. W. Beecher, " serves to connect Jesus and his 
teachings with all God's revelations and promises 
that had been given before. It binds all generations 
together in one moral system, showing us that there 
is, for all generations, one God and one religion, 
whose principles do not change. It proclaims that 



13 



it has come, not to tell men of an unknown God, 
but of Him 'who made a covenant with Abraham 
and an oath unto Isaac, and confirmed the same 
unto Jacob for a law, and unto Israel for an ever- 
lasting covenant;' the same God to whom David 
poured out his psalms of praise ; the same God 
whose will, whose principles of government, all the 
prophets had made known. It introduces not a 
new religious system, but only the clearer and com- 
pleted revelation of that by which all good men in 
former ages had lived and died — demanding the 
same kind of faith which was' imparted to Abraham 
for righteousness, so that all believers in Christ are 
called the children of Abraham — requiring the same 
kind of penitence as that which David uttered in 
the 51st Psalm, and the same kind of obedience 
which God demanded of Israel, saying to them by 
the prophet, 'What doth the Lord require of thee 
but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk 
humbly with thy God ?' The prediction that the 
seed of David should reign over all the earth, and 
that in the seed of Abraham all the families of the 
earth should be blessed, had waited long for its ful- 
fillment; and at last we have 'the book of the gen- 
eration of Jesus Christ,' ' the son of David, the son 
of Abraham;' and every one of those strange Jew- 
ish names is a link in the chain of evidence which 
demonstrates the truth of God's promises, and gives 
the world assurance that he will be faithful to bis 
word." 

2. We recognize in this genealogy God's spe- 
cial providence; for how could it be known before- 
hand, without Divine guidance, in which of the in- 
numerable collateral branches of a father the great 
Descendant should be born ? The genealogy of the 
Bible, brought down to Jesus, is evidently a distinc- 
tion of the Son of man from all others. Every 
thing is designed to point to him, and his lineage was 
made known long before his birth. — But the Bibli- 
cal genealogies have still another important design; 
namely, to furnish us with a true history of our race 
and its origin, in opposition to the fictions and 
myths of ancient and modern hea,thens about the 
origin of man. The further back we trace the my- 
thologies of the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Ro- 
mans, the more obscure and absurd they become. 
They speak of the carnal intercourse of gods with 
men, which gave rise to hero-worship and idolatry. — 
The table of Christ's genealogy, standing at the be- 
ginning of Matthew's Gospel, fixes in our minds, at 
the very outset, the impression that we are reading 
the history of a real person, who actually lived here 
in this world of ours. No one who was writing a 
fiction would have dared to give it a beginning seem- 
ingly so dry as this list of names. 

3. The genealogy shows us the sinfulness and de- 
pravity of human nature. How many pious parents 
named in this catalogue had wicked children ! The 
parents of Rehoboam, Joram, Amon, and Jechonias 
were pious. Piety and the grace of God are not 



194 



MATTHEW I, 18-25. 



necessarily inherited by children from their parents. 
The children of God are " not born of blood, nor 
of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but 
of God." — When we consider how polluted our na- 
ture is, how infinite is the condescension and mercy 
on the part of the Son of God, to be born of a wo- 
man, to be made in the likeness of sinful flesh. — 
Some of the names contained in this table remind 
ns of base deeds and sad events ; but at the close of 
all the names stands the name of our Lord Jesus 
Christ. Although he was the eternal Word, yet he 
took upon himself human nature for the purpose 
of making us again the children of God. This 
infinite condescension of Christ should inspire us 
with profound gratitude. It teaches us that whoever 
partakes of human nature has claims on Christ's 
redemption. Even if our sins are as many and as 
heinous as those of some of the above-mentioned 
ancestors of Jesus, they will not shut the gate of 
heaven against us, if we repent and believe in the 
Lord Jesus Christ, and thus become ingrafted unto 
him as fruit bearing branches to the glory of the 
Savior of the world. 

4. Dr. Lisco in his vv ^vcbitlt'Silttuurfe" gives the 
following excellent sketch of a homily on this sec- 
tion, which offers both to the general reader, and 
especially to the preacher of the Gospel, ample ma- 
terial for profitable reflection : 

HOW FAR HAS THE GENEALOGY OF JeSUS A BEARING 

on our Christian Faith? 

I. By shoiving the historical connection of Christ 
with the human family. 

1. By tracing his pedigree to Adam. (Luke iii, 38.) 
He is the Savior of the whole race. 



2. By tracing it to Abraham. (Matt, i, 1.) Sal- 
vation is of the Jews. 

3. This connection runs through the three prin- 
cipal epochs of the history of the Jews, (verse 17;) 
namely : 

(1.) Through the time when the promise was gen- 
eral, from Abraham to David. (Verses 1-6.) 

(2.) Through the time from David to the Baby- 
lonian captivity, the time of particular promises. 
(Verses 6-11.) 

(3.) Through the time intervening between the 
Babylonian captivity and the birth of Christ, the 
time when the voice of prophecy was hushed, and 
the Promised One was eagerly desired and looked 
for. (Verses 12-16.) 

4. This connection further shows : 

(1.) Not only how in Christ the prophecies of all 
times were fulfilled, but, also, 

(2.) How they proceed from an inward necessity. 

II. By a deeper apprehension of the history of 
the world, for which his genealogy prepares us. 

1. The central point of the world's history is the 
redemption of the human family through Jesus 
Christ. 

2. An ardent desire of this redemption has pre- 
eminently characterized the children of Israel. 

3. This fact accounts for the possibility of pre- 
serving, for thousands of years, the genealogies of 
those that are considered heirs of the promise. 

4. Not in Israel alone, but even in the whole race, 
there existed a faint hope of the great Deliverer. 

5. All violent commotions and convulsions in his- 
tory prior to the advent of Christ must be consid- 
ered as expressions of this vague and unsanctified 
longing. 



2. AN ANGEL ANNOUNCES TO JOSEPH THE SUPERNATURAL CONCEPTION OF JESUS. 



Matthew's narrative concerning the conception of Jesus bears the stamp of the high- 
est simplicity and brevity. In attacking its historical character, infidel writers have 
claimed the right to put it on an equal footing with the myths of heathen nations, which 
represent their great men also as the sons of virgins. But this blasphemous comparison 
shows only the firm historical basis on which the Gospel account rests ; for in these 
mythological tales a god becomes a man, not in order to give existence to a being of 
superhuman purity, but in order to gratify the vilest lusts. Such conceptions were 
abominations upon which the Jews looked with the utmost abhorrence. Besides, when 
the gods of the heathen became incarnate, they took only the form of what they repre- 
sented, but acted in direct contradiction to the nature which they apparently assumed. 
Not so in the incarnation of the Son of God. He was very man, as well as very God, 
and even in this awful mystery the God of Bevelation carried out his own perfect laws. 
If, however, any latent truth is to be recognized in these myths, it is this, that they bear 
witness to the correct idea, that by the way of natural generation the perfect man could 
not be born. They may, moreover, be considered as the expression of the universal long- 
ing after the fact, of which Matthew gives us a well-authenticated account. That in the 



THE ANGEL'S ANNOUNCEMENT TO JOSEPH. 



195 



person of Jesus this universal, unconscious longing has been fulfilled, his whole life testi- 
fies, infinitely superior as it is to any thing that could proceed from sinful mankind. (See 
General Introduction, §§ 28, 29.) Very significantly says Moses, in his account of the 
generations from Adam to Noah, (Gen. v, 3:) "Adam begat a son in his own likeness, 
after his image." Hence, if Jesus was a real, yet sinless man, as his mediatorial office 
required, and as the New Testament expressly declares him to be, he can have been 
exempted from depravity only by virtue of his supernatural conception, as expressly 
stated by two Evangelists and taken for granted in all the books of the New Testament. 

"Verses 18—25. (Compare Luke i, 26-28; n, 1-21.) 

(18) Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother 
Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with 
child of the Holy Ghost. (19) Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and 
not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 
(20) But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared 
unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee 
Mary thy wife : for that which. is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. (21) And 
she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus : for he shall save 
his people from their sins. (22) Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled 
which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, (23) Behold, a virgin shall 
be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, 
which being interpreted is, God with us. (24) Then Joseph being raised from 
sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife : 
(25) And knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born son : and he called 
his name Jesus. 



Verse 18. Now the birth of Jesus was on 
this wise. Literally translated the clause reads, 
"But of Jesus Christ the origin was thus." The 
Greek word for birth, in the received text, is yhvTjcig, 
the being generated or conceived, corresponding 
to the verb kyewriae, begat, repeated so often in the 
genealogy. There is another reading, yiveaig, origin 
in a more general sense. The difference in the 
sense is scarcely perceptible. The words form evi- 
dently a contrast to what has preceded. As if the 
Evangelist had said : All these, from Isaac to Joseph, 
were begotten in the natural and ordinary way; but 
Jesus Christ was begotten in an entirely-different 
way. This the Evangelist had already indicated 
negatively in verse 16, and adds now the positive 
statement of the manner of his origin. — When as 
his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph. Lit- 
erally, for his mother Mary being espoused. The 
particle for, omitted in the English version, ex- 
plains how Jesus was begotten differently from his 
ancestors. — Was found with child. Her condi- 
tion became known to herself, and, probably through 
her, to Joseph. It is evident that the discovery was 
not such as to expose the Virgin Mother to any dis- 
grace; for among all the slanders heaped upon the 
Savior by the Jews, there is not the least trace of 



any touching his birth. — Most of the German com- 
mentators place the discovery of Mary's condition 
and Joseph's taking her unto him as his wife, before 
her journey to Elizabeth. But Mr. Andrews refutes 
this supposition very satisfactorily as follows: "With 
it Luke's statement, (i, 19,) that she went with haste 
into the hill country, is inconsistent; for going 
with haste can not refer merely to the rapidity of 
the journey after it was begun, but to the fact that 
she made no delay in commencing it. Hug refers 
to a traditionary law that virgins should not travel, 
and that, therefore, Joseph must previously have 
taken her home as his wife. Alford says that " as a 
betrothed virgin she could not travel," but cites no 
authority. But if any such law were in force, which 
is very doubtful, Mary may have journeyed in com- 
pany with friends, or with a body of neighbors going 
up to the Passover. That no unmarried female 
could journey, even to visit her friends, is incred- 
ible. ' The incidental mention of women and chil- 
dren in the great assemblies gathered around Jesus,' 
says Thomson, (The Land and the Book, vol. II. 
page 84,) 'is true to Oriental life, strange as it may 
appear to those who read so much about female 
seclusion in the East. In the great gatherings of 
this day, at funerals, weddings, feasts, and fairs, 



196 



MATTHEW I, 18-25. 



women and children often constitute the largest 
portion of the assemblies.' Ebrard's supposition 
that Mary continued at Nazareth till certain women, 
the pronubse, becoming suspicious, informed Joseph 
of her condition, and that then God made known 
to him what had occurred, has nothing in its favor. 
As little basis has the supposition of Lange that she 
told Joseph of the visit of the angel. The narra- 
tive plainly implies that Mary, without communi- 
cating to him or any one else what had taken place, 
departed immediately to seek Elizabeth. That, un- 
der the peculiar circumstances in which she was 
placed, she should greatly desire to see Elizabeth, 
was natural, and it is very improbable that she 
should wait several weeks, when all this time she 
could have no communication with Joseph, except 
through these pronubas. The whole narrative shows 
that neither Elizabeth nor Mary rashly forestalled 
God's action. Both, full of faith, waited in quiet- 
ness and silence till he should reveal in his own 
way what he had done. The interval that had 
elapsed between the annunciation and Mary's re- 
turn from Judea, was sufficient to make manifest 
to Joseph her condition. That she at this time 
informed him of the visit of the angel and of the 
Divine promise is not said in so many words, but is 
plainly implied. The position in which Joseph was 
now placed was one of great perplexity, and, as a 
just man who desired to mete out to every one that 
which was his due, he was, on the one hand, unwill- 
ing to take her under such imputation of immoral- 
ity, yet, on the other hand, unwilling to condemn 
her where there was a possibility of innocence. 
He, therefore, determined to put her away privately, 
which he could lawfully do, and so avoid the neces- 
sity of exposing her to public disgrace, or of inflict- 
ing upon her severe punishment. While yet in 
doubt as to his proper course, the angel of the 
Lord, in a dream, confirmed the statement of 
Mary. Agreeably to the Divine commandment, 
Joseph takes Mary at once to his own house as his 
wife." —The idolatrous worship paid to Mary by the 
Roman Catholic Church has perhaps induced Prot- 
estants too much to overlook her exalted charac- 
ter, which so gloriously shines forth from various 
circumstances. She must have been a woman of 
superior mind and deep piety, timid and modest, 
yet thoughtful and firm, peculiarly qualified to bear 
the mysterious trials and the high honor that fell 
to the lot of no other mother. — Or the Holy 
Ghost. These words have, of course, no reference 
to the discovery, but are simply added by the Evan- 
gelist, to declare the fact. 

Verse 20. These things ; namely, those related 
in the two preceding verses. — The angel of the 
Lord. The name of the angel is not given, as in 
Luke i, 19, 26 ; he may have been Gabriel. The word 
'"angel" properly signifies a messenger, and is chiefly 
used in Scripture to designate "a spiritual being 
sent by God on some supernatural errand." The 



existence of intermediate beings between man. and 
the Father of all spirits is not only not repugnant 
to human reason, but is rather almost a postulate 
of reason, since all the visible creatures of God form 
a rising scale, proceeding, step by step, from the 
lower to the higher. Very pertinent is the remark 
of Dr. Whedon on this point: "During the four 
hundred years intervening between the Old Testa- 
ment and the New, prophecy, miracle, inspiration, 
and angelic inspiration had ceased. This interval 
of cessation and silence was broken by the prepara- 
tion for the appearance of Jesus, the Savior. The 
first phenomenon, opening this new dispensation, 
was the appearance of the angel Gabriel in the 
Temple, announcing to Zacharias the birth of John 
the Baptist, forerunner of the Messiah. This epiph- 
any was followed by a profusion of miraculous dis- 
play of every variety of nature, preceding the birth, 
attending the ministry, and following the ascension 
of the Son of God. Angels appear in their splen- 
dor, devils in their malignity ; dreams, miracles, and 
Divine operations of various nature surround and 
attend the sacred person of the Lord. It was a 
miraculous dispensation, a supernatural epoch, in 
which the powers of heaven and hell came forth 
in manifestations extraordinary and unparalleled, 
and not to be tested by the experience of ordinary 
ages. It is not for us to say, who live in the com- 
mon level of human history, that angelic appear- 
ances and demoniacal possessions did not transpire 
during the period in which God's love was incar. 
note. The greatest of miracles might well imply 
and properly be attended by a retinue of inferior, 
but kindred facts." — The Church of Christ stands 
no longer in need of angelophanies in order to per- 
ceive the will of God, having, as she does, in God's 
full self-revelation laid down in the Scriptures, and 
in the Holy Spirit which is promised and given unto 
her, the never-failing source of all light and truth. — 
In a dream. The same God who has warned us 
expressly against false dreams (Jeremiah xxiii, 32 ; 
xxix, 8,) has nevertheless often spoken to men "in 
a dream, in a vision of the night." (Job xxxix, 15.) 
Every dream from God, intended to reveal some 
supernatural truth, brought also an evidence of its 
Divine origin, and is conditioned by purity of heart; 
for the impure in heart constantly__see and hear 
falsely if they in an unauthorized manner seek super- 
natural information. God had often before revealed 
his will to patriarchs and prophets in dreams. Such 
dream-visions, however, are a lower kind of revela- 
tions than visions had in a state of waking. — Del- 
itsch, in his Psychology, says on this subject: 
" Dreams have also a spiritual side, and can become 
the means of a direct intercourse of God with man 
for special or general purposes. We divide this 
kind of dreams into dreams, 1. Of conscience; 
2. Of revelation. The latter are dreams by which 
the special will of God — such as can not be learned 
from his written Word or from motives presented 



THE ANGEL'S ANNOUNCEMENT TO JOSEPH. 



197 



by the conscience — is revealed unto man either 
through a divine or angelic voice ; or those dreams 
throuo-h which a man obtains a knowledge of future 
events, far beyond the limits of the foreboding fac- 
ulty. Examples of such dreams are those of Jacob 
in Bethel, (Gen. xxviii, 12, etc.,) and in Haran, 
(Gen. xxxi, 10-13,) that of Solomon in Gibeon, 
(1 Kings iii, 5, etc.,) those of Joseph, the husband 
of Mary, (Matt, i and ii,) and the visions of Paul, 
(Acts xvi, 9; Isaiah xi, 27, 28,) provided the apostle 
had them while sleeping." — For that which is con- 
ceived in her, etc. The humanity of Jesus dif- 
fered from that of all other men in this, that it was 
not derived from a descendant of fallen Adam, but 
was the immediate production of the Holy Spirit, a 
miracle not greater than Adam's creation by God 
without a natural father and mother. Through the 
conception in the womb of the Virgin, and the nour- 
ishment which his body drew from the mother, he 
became like other men in all things, sin alone ex- 
cepted, so that he was within the reach of pain and 
suffering and subject to the laws of physical devel- 
opment. (2 Cor. xiii, 4; Luke ii, 40.) We clearly 
see from this that the sinlessness of Jesus did not 
require a sinless nature on the part of his mother : 
for " that which was conceived in her was of the 
Holy Ghost," was of a holy and divine nature, and 
necessarily sanctified the nourishment which his 
body received from the mother. Hence the dogma 
of the Pope that Mary herself was conceived by her 
mother without sin is absurd, because her immacu- 
late conception would have required the same mir- 
acle which took place in the conception of Jesus. 
Why our Lord, during his sojourn on earth, only 
hinted indirectly at his supernatural origin, (John 
iii, 5, 6; x, 35,) and did not plainly teach it, is self- 
evident. — On the incarnation of the Logos see the 
exposition of Luke i, 35, and John i, 14. 

Verse 21. What was designated in the neuter 
gender, in the preceding verse, is now called a son. 
The angel, however, did not say, as he had done in 
the case of Zachariah, " She shall bear thee a son," 
but merely, " She shall bring forth a son." The 
angel, moreover, emphasizes both the name "Jesus" 
and the high destiny of the child. It is also worthy 
of note that both the office and work of Christ were 
so fully explained to Joseph, and the redemption to 
be accomplished by Jesus as announced by the angel 
is as deep and comprehensive as it is any where else 
represented by the synoptic Evangelists. (See Hom- 
iletic Suggestions.) 

Verse 22. Now, all this was done. Dr. Al- 
exander considers verses 22 and 23 to be words 
addressed by the angel to Joseph, and gives the 
following reasons for his view: "Here again, as in 
verse 18, the word translated nmo is the usual con- 
nective fit, corresponding to our and or but, and 
continuing the sentence, without interruption, from 
the verse preceding. The expression all this, or, 
retaining the exact form of the Greek phrase, this 



whole matter — namely, the conception of Mary — is 
more natural if uttered by the angel at the time 
than if added by the Evangelist long after. The 
verb, too, is in the perfect tense, and properly means 
has [now] come to pass, and not did come to pass 
at some former time. This distinction between the 
perfect and the aorist is clearly marked, not only 
in the theory of the Greek verb and the practice of 
the classical Greek writers, but also in the usage 
of the New Testament, where the perfect tense of 
this verb occurs more than sixty times, and, with a 
few exceptions, must be rendered by our perfect to 
express its full force, although usually rendered by 
the simple past tense or the present passive. That 
the two tenses are not simply convertible in either 
language may be seen from Rev. xvi, 17, xxi, 6, 
where it is done means it has come to pass, and 
could not be exchanged for it was done, it happened, 
or it came to pass. — That it might be fulfilled — 
Iva T7?.7/pc)-&ri. Ellicot, on Ephesians, says on the con- 
junction "iva: "The uses of this particle in the New 
Testament appear to be three : 1. Final, or indica- 
tive of the end, purpose, or object of the action — the 
primary and principal meaning — and never to be 
given up except on the most distinct counter argu- 
ments. 2. Sub-final, occasionally, especially after 
the verbs of entreaty — not of command — the subject 
of the prayer being blended with and even, in some 
cases, obscuring the purpose of making it. (See 
Winer's Gr., English translation, §44, 8, p. 299.) 
3. Eventual, or indicative of result, applicatory, in 
a few instances, and due, perhaps, more to what is 
called Hebrew teleology — that is, the reverential 
aspect under which the Jews regarded prophecy 
and its fulfillment — than grammatical depravation. 
Comp. Winer's Gr., §53, 6, p. 406." Winer him- 
self — ©rammattf be§ Sieuteftamentlicften Sprad;- 
ibioin?!, 5te Sluflage p. 541 — says, ad locum: "There 
can be no doubt that, in the mouth of Jesus and 
his apostles, the formula 'iva [ottuc) n'Xrjpu-&ri has the 
meaning in order that. At the same time, their 
meaning is not that God had brought about an 
event, much less compelled men to a certain course 
of action, in order that a prophecy might be ful- 
filled; but it is: God has foretold a certain event, 
and the Divine prophecies being true, the event had 
necessarily come to pass. Intervening events, the 
free acts of men, God foreknows, and on this fore- 
knowledge, which does not in the least interfere 
with man's free agency, he based his prophecies. 
This connection of events, however, the Jews, who 
framed this formula, did not conceive with scientific 
clearness." — The sense, accordingly, is not that all 
this was done for the purpose that a prophecy might 
be fulfilled; but God's providence brought it about 
in order to give to his people a proof of his omnis- 
cience, omnipotence, truth, and faithfulness in the 
'ulfillment of the prophecy. — No where in the New 
Testament does the expression, "Here is fulfilled," 
or, "That it might be fulfilled," merely mean, "Here 



198 



MATTHEW I, 18-25. 



we may fitly apply this or that passage of the Old 
Testament." In this sense the Jewish rabbins ap- 
plied many passages of the Old Testament, and put 
constructions on them unwarranted by the connec- 
tion in which they occurred. Some have charged 
the Evangelists with having quoted from the Old 
Testament in a similar manner, but, as we shall 
presently see, without sufficient cause. Dr. A. 
Clarke says: "Matthew seems to quote the proph- 
ecies from the Old Testament as fulfilled according 
to the following rules : 1. When the thing predicted 
is literally accomplished ; 2. When that of which the 
Scripture has spoken is done, not in a literal, but 
in a spiritual sense ; 3. When that which has been 
mentioned in the Old Testament as formerly done, 
is accomplished in a larger and more extensive 
sense in the New Testament; 4. When a thing is 
done, neither in a literal nor. spiritual sense, ac- 
cording to the fact referred to in the Scripture, but 
is similar to that fact." The rule mentioned last 
was evidently practiced by the rabbins, but certainly 
never by an inspired writer. When the Evangelists 
say, " This was done that it might be fulfilled," we 
must take it for granted that the passage quoted 
from the Old Testament as fulfilled, is actually ful- 
filled in and by Christ. 

Verse 23. Rationalistic, and some orthodox, com- 
mentators restrict the prophecy in question to the 
time of Ahaz, and say, its natural and literal mean- 
ing is : " If from this day a virgin marries and brings 
forth a son, she may call him Immanuel; for in his 
time God will be with us. Before the child shall be 
four years old, Syria and Israel shall be conquered, 
and Judah be delivered from its enemies." Accord- 
ing to this, the typical element in this prophecy would 
be, that the child of that virgin shall simply bear the 
name Immanuel, while the Son of the Virgin Mary, 
in virtue of his nature, shall be, " God with us." 
Olshausen says: "Isaiah gives Ahaz the sign that 
his spouse, that is soon to be his (second) wife, shall 
bear him a son, who shall be called Immanuel. This 
accords very well with the symbolic names, which 
the prophet gave his sons. The name of the oldest, 
Shear-jashub — 'the remnant shall return' — is very 
significant, and the second receives, by Divine com- 
mand, (Isaiah viii, 9,) in addition to the name 'Im- 
manuel,' another, ' Maher — Shalal-hashbaz ' — that is, 
' hastening to the spoil, he speeds to the prey ' — with 
reference to the fulfillment of the following threat- 
enings. Matthew, therefore, is right in referring 
the event of the birth of this Immanuel to the birth 
of Christ, because that parallelism was intended by 
the spirit of the prophecy." But this interpretation 
is untenable, for the following reasons: 1. What is 
said of the son of the prophet, (Isaiah viii, 1-4,) is 
a different word of the Lord to the prophet, and is 
not addressed to the house of Ahaz or the kingdom 
of Judah, but to the kingdoms of Israel and Syria. 
2. There is no real point of comparison between the 
woman who should bear a son in Ahaz's time and 



the Virgin Mary. The former event possessed no 
typical and supernatural element, as, e. g., the 
birth and offering of Isaac. It is equally unac- 
countable why the prophet should have given the 
name Immanuel to a child born in Ahaz's time of 
an unknown woman in a natural way, and address 
the child as the lawful owner of the law, as he does 
when he says concerning Israel's enemies, "And the 
stretching out of his [their wings] shall fill the 
breadth of the land, Immanuel!" (chap, viii, 8,) 
and then finds the final deliverance of the country 
from its oppressors in the fact that Immanuel is its 
possessor. For he addresses the efiemies, "Take 
counsel together, and it shall come to naught; 
speak the word, and it shall not stand ; for [here is 
Immanuel,] God with us." (Chap, viii, 10.) If we 
consider, in connection with this, the glorious 
prophecy of chap, ix, 6, " For unto us a child is 
born, unto us a Son is given: and the Government 
shall be upon his shoulder : and his name shall be 
called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the 
everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace," we can 
not but believe that the prophet understood the 
same supernatural personage by the " Immanuel." 
3. The Hebrew original reads not : " Behold, a vir- 
gin shall conceive," etc. — that is, a person that is now 
a virgin shall subsequently conceive — but it literally 
reads: " Behold the Virgin [pregnant or with child] 
gives birth to a son;" the only person that answers 
to this description, being virgin and mother at the 
same time. — The Hebrew word almah — here ren- 
dered '■'■virgin" — is derived from the verb alam, sig- 
nifying "to hide," "to conceal," "to cover," in the 
passive voice, "to be not known" — by a man — and 
in the Holy Scripture, it is always applied to unmar- 
ried women. (Gen. xxiv, 43; Ex. ii, 8; Ps. Ixviii, 
26; Song Sol. i, 8; vi, 8.) Moreover, this term 
"almah" is here translated ndp-&evog by the LXX, 
the strongest Greek term for a pure virgin. 4. What 
kind of a sign would it have been to Ahaz, that a 
young woman should give birth to a son in the nat- 
ural way? God deemed it necessary to impress 
upon Ahaz the reliability of his promised help by an 
extraordinary sign. For this end he unfolded before 
him the grand theater of heaven and earth, that he 
might choose from out of the countless, stupendous 
works of the universe, one that would dispel all his 
misgivings concerning the promised help in this 
hour of need. Refusing to choose one himself, it 
pleased God to give him a sign, which was certainly 
not inferior to what he had been offered; that is, a 
real miracle. Is it credible that God should have 
given him, in lieu of it, an every-day's occurrence? 
What impression could this possibly have made 
upon him ? 5. If the prediction of the prophet had 
referred to a then living virgin, it would not have 
been calculated to allay Ahaz's fears and apprehen- 
sions and to forestall their consequences; for long 
before a virgin might conceive and bear a son, and 
Ahaz be informed of the birth and name of the 



THE ANGEL'S ANNOUNCEMENT TO JOSEPH. 



199 



child, the siege might have been raised or the city 
taken, and thus the pernicious tendencies of Ahaz's 
fears and cowardly offer to the Assyrian king have 
been fully realized. — The direct application, how- 
ever, of the prophecy to the Messiah is objected to 
on the ground that an event, which was to take 
place about seven hundred years afterward, could 
not possibly be a sign to the desponding Ahaz and 
the house of David, of being delivered from their 
present danger. To this we reply: 1. Not only 
present events, but also such as are hid in the far 
distant future, may be signs of what already is or 
is soon to be, provided they are divinely accredited. 
An example or two will illustrate our meaning. 
We read, in Genesis xv, that Abraham was greatly 
troubled by the probability that he would die with- 
out issue. God, to console him, promised him a 
posterity as numerous as the stars of heaven, and 
confirmed this promise, along with other assurances, 
by the prediction that his descendants — the sons of 
his grandson Jacob — would emigrate to a foreign 
country — Egypt— return after an absence of about 
four hundred years, and then take possession of the 
land of Canaan. Here the event near by— the birth 
of a son to Abraham — is confirmed by the fate of 
his far distant posterity, inasmuch as this posterity 
involved a son of Abraham. So in the case before 
us. Ahaz was troubled that the whole family of 
David might be swept away. He is reminded of a 
previously-given promise, that the Messiah is to be 
of the family of David, and a new feature, his 
miraculous conception, is added to the Messianic 
prophecy. (Comp. Exod. iii, 1, 2; 1 Sam. ii, 3, 4.) 
2. The attending circumstances of the sign in ques- 
tion, the reason why and the object for ivhich it was 
given must not be lost sight of Ahaz had doubts 
about God's power to liberate him from two pow- 
erful enemies, according to his promise. He re- 
ceives, accordingly, the assurance that God can do 
much greater things; namely, that by Divine inter- 
position a virgin, as such, should conceive and bear 
a son. See a similar case in John ii, 18, etc. : a 
sign was demanded of Christ to prove his authority 
to do in the Temple what he had done. The Lord 
referred his questioners to his future resurrection 
from the dead, correctly intimating that he who had 
the power to raise his own dead body into life had 
also the power and authority to restore the order 
of the Temple service. 3. It is customary with the 
prophets, in their promises of temporal blessings to 
the children of Israel, never to lose sight of the 
promised Messiah as the foundation of all promises. 
It is, moreover, probable that, even in those days, 
people had, from the passage, Genesis iii, 15, which 
modern Jews also refer to the Messiah, some faint 
notion that a woman (Gal. iv, 4) would conceive 
and give birth to the Messiah, not knowing a man. — 
This remarkable prophecy was uttered by Isaiah 
during the first or second year of the reign of Ahaz, 
King of Judah, 743-742 before Christ, when Rezin, 



King of Syria, and Pekah, King of Israel, had en- 
tered into a league to take Jerusalem, and to de- 
throne the royal house of David. The king and all 
the people trembled. They had no confidence in 
the Divine promise given to Jacob, " that the scepter 
should not depart from Judah, before Shiloh [the 
Messiah] had come." King Ahaz had made up his 
mind to surrender to the King of Assyria. (2 Kings 
xvi, 7.) The Lord, therefore, sent the prophet 
Isaiah to him in order to promise him Divine deliv- 
erance, and thereby dissuade him from the prosecu- 
tion of his ruinous plan. The prophet bade the 
despairing king to ask of God a sign of the prom- 
ised help. The king refusing to do so, the prophet 
turned away from him to the house of David, and 
addressed it with these words: "The Lord himself 
shall give you a sign." This sign was a new, sig- 
nificant prophecy concerning the Messiah, who, of 
course, could not have come at all if the house of 
David and the kingdom of Judah had ceased to 
exist. But if this interpretation is correct, how are 
verses 15 and 16 of chapter vii of Isaiah to be un- 
derstood? The generally-received interpretation is 
best expressed by Dr. "Whedon: "Before this ideal 
child, beheld in vision as now being born, is able to 
know good from evil, these two invading kings shall 
disappear. Isaiah takes the growth of the infant, 
conceptually present, as the measure of the contin- 
uance of the invading kings. That Immanuel, the 
predicted seed of the woman, the prophet sees as 
already being born; he is being fed on nourishing 
food — namely, butter and honey — to bring him to 
an early maturity ; but in a briefer period than his 
growth to intelligence shall require, these invading 
kings shall be overthrown, and Israel be rescued." — 
An entirely-different and very interesting exposition 
of this difficult prophecy is given by Prof. Schultz, 
in the vv igtubien unb ktititm" of 1861, the sub- 
stance of which we subjoin, in a condensed, free 
translation : " The prophecy that Immanuel, or Mes- 
siah, should not be begotten by a king of the house 
of David, but be the son of a virgin mother, pro- 
claims a purpose of God, which had its first typical 
fulfillment in the time of Ahaz and his cotemporaries. 
Isaiah speaks of the Messiah and his virgin mother 
in such a manner that they also typify a general 
principle, which conditioned the continued existence 
of Israel as a people. While their faithless kino- 
forsakes them, the true Israelites shall, through Di- 
vine interposition, bring forth from out of them- 
selves a new and holy seed, which shall both prove 
and cause God's continued presence with his people, 
(Immanuel.) The same idea is hinted at already in 
chapter vi, 13, where the remnant of the people, 
after the execution of the terrible judgments of 
God, are compared to 'a teil tree, and to an oak, 
whose substance is in them.' The strength left in 
these shattered trees is a type of the Virgin, and the 
holy seed a type of the Immanuel of the New Test- 
ament. In order to understand this view of the 



200 



MATTHEW I, 18-25. 



prophecy, it is necessary to bear in mind that, in 
prophecy generally, but « especially in Messianic 
prophecies, beginning and end appear as one whole, 
simultaneous in all its parts. While, e. g., Jacob 
beholds the royal scepter of Judah, (Gen. xlix, 10,) 
to which the nations shall submit, while Balaam 
(Numb, xxiv, 17,) describes Israel, that is to smite 
the nations round about, both of them prophesy of 
the Messiah in such a manner that David and the 
other types constitute, with their glorious antitype, 
one whole, and the prophecy finds a partial fulfill- 
ment in David. Yet the prophet's eye dwells less 
on temporal and earthly objects than on the heav- 
enly ideal and its final perfect realization. Thus 
Isaiah also, in his prophecy of the Virgin bearing a 
son, sees at once the ideal, and from thence looks 
down on minor points, which lay nearer in point 
of time. These minor points, constituting the sign 
given to Ahaz, consist in this: The seed of God's 
people, that is born from out of the true Israel 
amid the greatest dangers and in spite of the entire 
despondency of the king, will speedily be delivered 
from the Syrians and Ephraimites in such a man- 
ner that the king himself, his whole house, and the 
whole apostate Israel shall fall a prey to their deliv- 
erers. Most expositors understand, by the eating 
of butter and honey, mentioned in chapter xvii, 15, 
coarse and scanty food, such as hard and trouble- 
some times afford ; but very improperly. Butter 
and honey are rather the best food, especially for 
children, which the land of Canaan yields. (Deut. 
xxxii, 13, 14.) Nor are these articles plenteous in 
times of distress and war. When an enemy invades 
a country, cattle are stolen, fields and meadows are 
laid waste, and, accordingly, honey and butter fail; 
but when the war is over, when the earth yields her 
produce again, when the number of the consumers 
is small in consequence of the war, then honey and 
butter become plenty. Immanuel's time will be a 
time of refreshing, such as God's children always 
enjoy, after the thunder of his judgment is spent. 
Those very troubles that changed the carnal secur- 
ity of the people, during Uzziah's and Jotham's 
reign, into consternation and despondency under 
Ahaz, (Isa. vii, 2,) must have strengthened the bet- 
ter portion, who saw therein the incipient fulfillment 
of the prophetic word, in their trust in God, and 
instead of being destroyed, as the unbelieving por- 
tion apprehended, they were spared and even in- 
creased, to the great astonishment of their faithless 
king. And when, shortly afterward, the Syrians 
and Ephraimites were humbled by the King of 
Assyria, (2 Kings v, 29; xvi, 9,) the surviving be- 
lievers alone enjoyed the fruits of the deliverance, 
Beeing therein not the result of Ahaz's vain efforts, 
but the hand of Jehovah, in whom they trusted. 
This had, of course, the happiest effect on the chil- 
dren of God. The king himself derived no benefit 
from the intervention of the Assyrians, which he 
had solicited; for, in the first place, they delivered 



him only from the Syrians and Ephraimites, not 
from the Edomite3 and Philistines, who turned their 
chance to good account, (2 Chron. xxviii, 17, 18; 
2 Kings i, 8 ; and Isa. xiv, 28 ; ) and, in the second 
place, Tiglath-pileser, the Assyrian king, robbed him 
of all his treasures, both of the royal palace and the 
Temple. — According to this view, the introduction 
of the virgin son, the Messiah, in this connection, 
is intelligible and natural. The prophet sees the 
growth of the people of God and of the Messiah as 
one event, altogether simultaneous. The begin- 
nings, though small, still were beginnings, and, at 
the same time, the fruitful germs of greater events. 
The small beginnings, the development and growth 
of the Divine seed in Israel without the favor of 
royalty, now a historical necessity in consequence 
of Ahaz's wickedness, were speedily realized, and 
thus furnished conclusive evidence that the whole 
prophecy, in all its grandeur, would, in God's ap- 
pointed time, be gloriously fulfilled." This inter- 
pretation agrees with the one given above, with 
regard to the time, before which the prophecy would 
be fulfilled in its beginnings; before the period 
transpires in which a child, conceived now and born 
in due time, shall be so far developed that it can 
distinguish between good and evil, the two invading 
kings shall have left the country in confusion and 
dismay. — They shall call his name Immanctel. 
In the Hebrew text it reads : She shall call. " He 
shall be called" is here, as in other places, equiva- 
lent to "He shall be." The name Immanuel is the 
most accurate and complete description of his per- 
son : he was in reality God with us, God with man, 
the God-man. 

Verse 25. Till she had brought forth her 
first-born son. The natural inference of this ex- 
pression is, that Mary, after the birth of Jesus, in the 
natural way conceived and bore children. Yet nei- 
ther the particle ewf — till— nor the term "first-born" 
forces us to the conclusion that other children were 
subsequently born of Mary. The supposition seems, 
however, to be confirmed by the frequent mention of 
Jesus' brothers and sisters. Of these we shall speak 
Matt, xiii, 55. Neander remarks: "The religious 
stand-point of Joseph and Mary does not warrant us 
to find it improbable that Jesus should have had 
younger brothers and sisters; nor is such an assump- 
tion forbidden from the Christian stand-point, which 
declares the state of matrimony to be a holy institu- 
tion of God, and the genuine traditions of the apos- 
tolic age contain nothing that contradicts this view." 
This much is certain, that if the perpetual virginity 
of Mary after the birth of Christ had been necessary 
for the purity of her character, as the Church of 
Rome pretends, the Evangelist, writing under the 
influence of the Holy Spirit, would have chosen a 
different phraseology. Those Protestant commenta- 
tors that are unwilling to assume that Mary gave 
birth to other children than Jesus, account for the 
obscurity of the Gospel expressions on this point, 



THE ANGEL'S ANNOUNCEMENT TO JOSEPH. 



201 



by supposing that it was employed for the very pur- 
pose of giving no ground to the sanctity which the 
Church of Rome ascribes to a state of celibacy. In 
this sense Olshausen understands the words of the 
Evangelist. He says, ad locum : "After such devel- 
opments, Joseph was perfectly justified to believe 
that his matrimonial connection with Mary had 
other purposes than to have children by her. The 
phraseology of the Evangelist, however, is perhaps 
purposely employed, in order to forbid every infer- 
ence against the holiness of the matrimonial state, 
which might possibly be drawn from this event. At 
the same time, it appears quite natural to us that 
the last female member of the house of David, the 
one that gave birth to the Messiah, should close her 
line with this last, eternal descendant of David's 
family." 



HOMILETIC SUGGESTIONS. 

1. The name "Jesus" means a deliverer from 
sin, a Savior. Sin is the source of all misery, the 
greatest of evils. The great object of the incarna- 
tion of the Son of God is to make a reconciliation 
for sin and to put away sin. (Heb. ix, 26.) Deliv- 
erance from the guilt, power, and pollution of sin is 
the privilege of every believer in Jesus Christ. To 
expect less would be to curtail the Gospel prom- 
ises. Christ saves us from the guilt of sin through 
the merits of his death, and from the power and 
pollution of sin, by the power of the Holy Spirit 
Christ did not come to save us in, but to save us 
from, our sins — not to purchase us liberty to sin, 
but to redeem us from sin and all unrighteousness. 
(Titus ii, 14.) The glory of the Gospel is not to 
make an apology for sin, but to make the pardou 
of sin consistent with the justice of God; it does 
not wink at, but puts away sin. 

2. Jesus could not be our Savior if he were not 
"God with us, Immanuel" — God manifested in the 
flesh. He was the Son of God, and yet like unto 
other men in all respects, sin alone excepted. The 
personal union of the Divine with the human nature 
is, indeed, a mystery that transcends human reason, 
but does not contradict it; for it has too limited a 
knowledge of the Divine nature to be able to say 
why the Word which was with God, and was God, 
could not become flesh without losing his divinity. 
With Him that has called the universe into being 
nothing is impossible. For the very reason that, 
in the person of Christ, the Divine is united with 
the human nature, he is the only mediator that can 
reconcile us with God. (1 Tim. ii, 5; iii, 16.) In 
his mediatorial capacity he is also the Head of the 
Church, his body, and as such sustains a real life- 
union with his members, the believers, making them 
partakers of the Divine nature and temples of God. 
(1 Cor. iii, 15.) The personal union of the Divine 
with the human nature in Jesus Christ is also the 
sure pledge of the final glorification of human na- 



ture in the righteous at his second coming, "when 
they shall see him/ as he is, and shall be like unto 
him." Jesus is, thus, Immanuel, God with us, in his 
incarnation, in his vicarious death, in his glorious 
resurrection and ascension. He is God with us; 
that is, he is on our side as our Intercessor, Friend, 
and Protector, our Comforter in life, in suffering, in 
death — God with us and in us, through his Holy 
Spirit, his Word and sacraments. 

3. On the mental difficulties of Joseph the Hom- 
ilist, a British homiletical journal of great value, 
from which we shall quote from time to time, has 
the following excellent sketch: 

"I. God knows the mental difficulties of good 
men. Mary's position was a trying one; her virtue 
was under a cloud; and the eye of suspicion was 
turned at her; but the inner energy of conscious 
rectitude, then, as ever, would nobly bear up her 
spirit. Events soon cleared the mist, and brought 
her forth as the spotless and honored heroine of 
ages. Suspected virtue can afford to wait. But 
Joseph's trial seems greater. Strong attachment 
and high principles of honor and piety were battling 
within him; high hopes were blighted, and long- 
cherished purposes were broken up. What soul- 
stirring thoughts would start in that breast of his! 
There was One who observed the workings of his 
anxious mind — who understood his 'thoughts afar 
off.' Thoughts are heard in heaven. 

" II. God removes mental difficulties in connec- 
tion with conscientious thoughtfulness. While he 
'thought on these things,' the angel of the Lord 
appeared unto him in a dream. He did not act 
from impulse ; he paused in the use of his reason — 
inquired for the right course; and the almighty 
Spirit came to his help. Thus he always guides 
man. He directs the planets by force — brutes by 
instinct — man by reason. He controls all men, 
but guides none save the thoughtful. He who 
would 'follow Providence' must become an earnest 
thinker — ' inquire in his temple.' 

" III. God removes mental difficulties by disclos- 
ing his redemptive plan. 'And she shall bring forth 
a Son,' etc. In the disclosure made to Joseph, the 
birth of Jesus is represented as supernatural, the 
mission of Jesus as remedial, and the nature of Je- 
sus as divine. This disclosure was quite satisfactory. 
A knowledge of God's redemptive plan will solve 
all moral problems. In all the intellectual difficul- 
ties of spiritual life — amid interwinding paths, and 
under skies cold and dark with doubts, when forced 
by urgent questionings and conflicting sentiments 
well-nigh to a fearful crisis — let us, with Joseph-like 
thoughtfulness, pause, even on the margin ; turn 
devoutly the eye and ear of reason up to the All 
Knowing: 'He shall send from heaven,' and help. 
Some kind angel shall course his downward way, 
and shall dispel all clouds, leaving the scene in all 
the serenity, beauty, and promise of a Summer's 
day." 



202 MATTHEW II, 1-12. 



OHAPTEE II. 
§3. THE VISIT OF THE MAGI. 

The first question is, what it was precisely that led the Magi to connect the birth of 
a King of the Jews with the appearance of a star. The answer to this question is not 
difficult. That they were acquainted with the prophecies of the Old Testament concern- 
ing the Messiah, especially with that of Balaam, of a star out of Jacob, (Num. xxiv, 17,) 
and with that of Daniel's seventy weeks, we may infer from the seed of revealed truth 
left by the Jews during their Babylonish captivity. Add to this that, according to the 
testimony of Suetonius, (Yesp., c. iv,) and Tacitus, (v, 13,) a general expectation per- 
vaded, at that time, the East, that a King should arise in Judea to rule the world. But 
above all, we must take into consideration that these men were the subjects of an espe- 
cial Divine illumination, as we see from verse 12. "Various are the ways by which God 
worketh with man. To the illiterate shepherds the announcement is made in direct and 
plain terms, and minute circumstances are related to enable them at once to find the 
Savior. To the learned Magi it was made by a phenomenon, by which God conde- 
scended to their natural wisdom. In a similar manner Jesus adapted himself, during 
his whole public ministry, to the position and capacities of his hearers, in order to lead 
them to a knowledge of salvation ; fishermen he impressed with their future calling by 
the miraculous draught of fishes; the sick he drew to himself by healing their diseases; 
the scribes he convinced out of the Scriptures, and his general hearers he instructed by 
parables taken from their daily pursuits and employments. 

The next question is: "What have we to understand by the star, which these astron- 
omers had seen, and in which they recognized the star of the new-born King of the 
Jews ? Was it a supernatural, luminous appearance, in the form of a star, or a phenom- 
enon in the regular movements of the heavenly bodies? The German commentators, 
almost without exception — and, among the English, Alford and Strong — adopt the last- 
named view. This opinion was first advanced by the celebrated astronomer Kepler, 
who, from a constellation observed in 1603, computed that a remarkable conjunction 
of the planets of our system took place a short time before the birth of our Lord. 
During the year 747 of Borne, the planets Jupiter and Saturn came three times — in 
May, October, and December — into near conjunction, so as to seem one body of sur- 
passing splendor, while in the ensuing Spring the planet Mars also came into conjunc- 
tion with the other two. The conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn occurred in the sign 
of the Eishes. Of the astrological significance of this constellation the learned rabbi 
Abarbanel, who wrote half a century before Kepler, and knew nothing of the conjunc- 
tions of 747, says that no conjunction could be of mightier import than that of Jupiter 
and Saturn, which planets were in conjunction in the year of the world 2365, three years 
before the birth of Moses, in the sign of the Fishes, and thence remarks that that sign 
was the most significant one for the Jews. All this, however, has been considered by 
some an unworthy connection of the superstitions of astrology with the Divine purposes. 
But why may not such a remarkable concurrence, resting uj)on high scientific authority, 
teach us that, about the time of Christ's birth, a great astronomical period closed, and 
that, as Neander remarks, the greatest event in the history of the world should be indi- 
cated in the movements of our planetary system? In confirmation of this supposition 
Alford remarks: "The expression of the Magi, 'We have seen his star,' does not seem to 
point to any miraculous appearance, but to something observed in the course of their 
watching the heavens." The Magi were students of the heavens, and such remarkable 
phenomena would naturally attract their attention. 



THE VISIT OF THE MAGI. 203 



Nevertheless, the view we have presented is rejected by most of the English com- 
mentators. It is objected that, "what is said, in verse 9, of the star going before them, 
can not have reference to a conjunction of planets, or to any ordinary movement of the 
stars." To this objection we may reply, that the words of the Evangelist, relating to an 
astronomical phenomenon, and given, as Alford remarks, as the report of the Magi 
themselves, need not be so rigidly interpreted. Some latitude of expression must be 
allowed the sacred writers on scientific subjects. On the supposition that the star, which 
the Magi had seen in the East, and which went before them, till it came and stood over 
where the youog child was, was not a meteor in the shape of a star, created by God for 
this very purpose, but either the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, or the planet Mars, 
which was added in the following Spring, or some comet, which, according to some Chi- 
nese astronomical records, was visible about that time — what is said in verse 9 of the 
motion of this star, may be explained in the following manner: "In their native 
country the Magi saw what they call a star in the wider astrological meaning of the 
word, and by its position in the sign of the Fishes, in connection with information from 
other sources, they were induced to set out for Jerusalem. Erom Jerusalem they went 
to Bethlehem, not because the star went before them, but because Herod had directed 
them to Bethlehem, and they could have no difficulty in finding the public road from 
Jerusalem to Bethlehem without a supernatural guide. But while on their way, trav- 
eling, no doubt, by night, as the Orientals generally do, they saw the star again. This 
agrees well with the fact that the constellation in question appeared and disappeared 
several times. Its appearing again was a Divine sign to them that they were now on 
the right way to the Messiah, whom they had erroneously expected to find at Jerusalem. 
It stood now in the south, and, according to the well-known laws of optics, it seemed to 
go with or before them. When Matthew, therefore, says, ' The star went before them, 
till it came and stood over where the young child was,' his object is not to represent the 
going and standing still of the star as the cause of the going and standing still of the 
Magi. He only portrays vividly how, at the desired end of their journey, when they 
had reached the edge of the table-land, which separates Jerusalem from the valley of 
Bethlehem, they saw the star shine in its full luster and brightness over the village, and, 
as it were, over the house where the child was. They were greatly rejoiced at seeing 
the star, not because it served them as a guide, but because it was a proof to them that 
they were coming to the right place." This explanation, however, is considered too 
forced, and it is contended that we must understand by the star an extraordinary 
meteor, standing at such a low elevation from the earth as to indicate a particular 
house. But if we take the word aff-rr/p in this sense, we depart from the literal meaning 
of the word just as much as if we understand by it a constellation — another objection 
urged against our view. As to the forced construction of the passage, the charge seems 
rather to lie against those who suppose the star to have been a miraculous phenomenon, 
and we fully agree with the principle of interpretation which Alford lays down on this 
occasion. He says: "We know the Magi to have been devoted to astrology; and, on 
comparing the language of our text with this undoubted fact, I confess that it appears 
to me the most ingenuous way, fairly to take account of that fact in our exegesis, and 
not to shelter ourselves from an apparent difficulty by the convenient but forced hypothesis of a 
miracle. Wherever supernatural agency is asserted, or may be reasonably inferred, I 
shall ever be found foremost to insist on its recognition, and impugn every device of 
rationalism or semi-rationalism; but it does not, therefore, follow that I should consent 
to attempts, however well meant, to introduce miraculous interference where it does not 
appear to be borne out by the narrative. The principle on which this commentary is con- 
ducted is that of honestly endeavoring to ascertain the sense of the sacred text, without 
regai'd to any preconceived systems and fearless of any possible consequences. And 
if the scientific or historical researches of others seem to contribute to this, my readers 



204 



MATTHEW II, 1-12. 



will find them, as far as they have fallen within my observation, made nse of for that 
purpose." — Another objection to the view to which we give the preference is, that the 
constellation in 747 does not agree with the otherwise-ascertained data concerning the 
time of the birth of Christ. But this objection has not much weight, because we have 
no means to know whether the first appearance of the constellation was designed to 
signify the actual birth or the incarnation, which the early Church connected with the 
annunciation — not with the nativity — nor at which of the successive appearances of the 
constellation the Magi set out on their journey, and how long it took them to reach 
Jerusalem. In conclusion, those who understand an extraordinary meteor by the star 
going before the Magi on their way to Bethlehem, ought to concede this much, that the 
attention of the Magi was first arrested by the planetary conjunctions, and that they 
were thus prepared to watch the heavens with deep interest for further signs, which God 
might, possibly, have given them by some extraordinary luminous appearance in the 
form of a star. 

"Verses 1—13. 

(1) JSTow when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea 1 in the days of Herod 
the king, 2 behold, there came wise men 3 from the east 4 to Jerusalem, 5 (2) saying, 
Where is he that is born King of the Jews ? for we have seen his star in the east, 
and are come to worship him. (3) When Herod the king had heard these things, 
he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. (4) And when he had gathered all 
the chief -priests 6 and scribes 7 of the people together, he demanded of them where 
Christ should be born. (5) And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for 



1 There was another Bethlehem in the tribe of Zebu- 
lun, near the Sea of Galilee. (Josh, xix, 15.) The 
name Bethlehem- Judah is used, Judges xvii, 7, 8, 9; 
1 Sam. xvii, 12. Another name for our Bethlehem was 
Ephrath, (Gen. xxxv, 19; xlviii, 7,) or Bphrata. (Mic. 
v, 2.) It was six Roman miles to the south of Jerusa- 
lem, and was known as " the city of David/' the origin 
of his family. (Ruth i, 1, 19.) 2 This Herod, surnamed 
the Great, was the son of Antipater, an Idumean and 
Jewish proselyte, who, having been appointed procura- 
tor of Judea by Julius Cassar, on the defeat of Pompey, 
made his younger son, Herod, Governor of Galilee. But 
on the invasion of the Parthians, who supported the 
claims of Antigonus, the representative of the Asmo- 
nean dynasty, he fled to Rome, where, by his own en- 
ergy and the aid of Mark Antony, he obtained from 
the Senate the title of King of Judea, which was con- 
firmed to him by Augustus. He sought to strengthen 
his throne by a series of cruelties and slaughters. Hyr- 
canus, the grandfather of his wife Mariamne, the last 
descendant of the line of Maccabean princes, was put 
to death shortly before his visit to Augustus. Mari- 
amne herself was next sacrificed to his jealousy. One 
execution followed another, till at last, 6 B. C, he was 
persuaded to put to death the two sons of Mariamne, 
Alexander and Aristobulus, in whom the chief hope of 
the people lay. Two years afterward ho condemned to 
death Antipater, his eldest son, who had been their 
most active accuser, and the order for his execution was 
among the last of Herod's life ; for he died himself, 
most miserably, five days after the death of his son, in 
the same year which marks the true date of the birth 
of Christ. (See General Introduction, \ 35.) 3 In Greek 
jiayoi — Magi — the name of an influential class of learned 
priests among the ancient Medians. They retained 



their high position after the union of the Median and 
the Persian empires. In Jer. xxxix, 3, one among the 
princes at the Court of Babylon is called Rab-mag, the 
chief of the Magi, holding, perhaps, the same place 
which was occupied by Daniel, (ii, 48.) This name lost, 
however, in later times, its honorable signification, and 
was applied to all who made pretensions to the occult 
sciences, astrology, etc. * An indefinite term. 5 Its ear- 
liest name was Salem — peace. (Gen. xiv, 18; Psalms 
lxxvi, 2.) Melchisedek resided there in the times of 
Abraham. Afterward the place fell into the hands of 
the Jebusites, who built a strong fortress, which they 
called Jebus, and although the Israelites took posses- 
sion of the adjacent country, and the place belonged to 
the inheritance of the children of Benjamin, (Joshua 
xviii, 28,) yet the fortress remained in the hands of the 
Jebusites (Judg. xix, 10, 11) till David took it from 
them. (2 Sam. v, 6-9.) Henceforth it became the po- 
litical capital of the Jewish nation and the seat of the 
theocracy. The word Jerusalem is a compound of 
Jebus and Salem, with a change of the letter b into r. 
6 Chief-priests is the plural of the word elsewhere trans- 
lated high-priest. According to the law of Moses, this 
office could be held by only one person during his life- 
time ; but in the course of the Gospel history we meet 
with several high-priests at one and the same time, be- 
cause the Romans had usurped the power to appoint and 
depose the high-priest at pleasure. Here, however, we 
have to understand, by the chief-priests, the heads of 
the twenty-four courses into which the priesthood was 
divided, who were, probably, all members of the San- 
hedrim. 7 The scribes of the New Testament were the 
successors of Ezra, and had the charge of transcribing 
the sacred books, whence naturally arose their office of 
interpreting difficult passages, and deciding in cases 



THE VISIT OF THE MAGI. 



205 



thus it is written by the prophet, (6) And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, 
art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Gov- 
ernor, that shall rule my people Israel. (7) Then Herod, when he had privily 
called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 
(8) And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the 
young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may 
come and worship him also. (9) "When they had heard the king, they departed ; 
and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and 
stood over where the young child was. (10) When they saw the star, they rejoiced 
with exceeding great joy. (11) And when they were come into the house, they 
saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshiped him : 
and when they had opened their treasures, 8 they presented unto him gifts ; gold, 
and frankincense, 9 and myrrh. I0 (12) And being warned of God in a dream 
that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country 
another way. 



Verse 2. Where is he that is born King of 
the Jews? " The [one] born already, as the past 
participle in the Greek text denotes. They assume 
the fact of his nativity as certain, and merely in- 
quire for the place, as something not revealed or 
ascertainable from astronomical phenomena. King 
of the Jeivs is the title applied to the Messiah in the 
New Testament by Gentiles, (see chap, xxvii, 29, 37, 
and compare John xviii, 33,) while the Jews them- 
selves call him King of Israel. (See chap, xxvii, 42, 
and compare John i, 50; xii, 13.) After the down^ 
fall of the kingdom of the ten tribes, and particu- 
larly after the return from exile, the whole nation 
being merged in Judah, the name Jew became a 
general one, especially with foreigners, and is ap- 
plied, in the New Testament, not only to the people 
of Judea, in the strict sense, but to those of Galilee, 
in reference both to their religion and their natural 
descent, as in Luke vii, 3; John ii, 6; Acts x, 28, 
and elsewhere. As the throne of David had been 
vacant now for ages, the inquiry of the wise men 
had respect not to the actual sovereign, who was 
not an Israelite at all, but to the hereditary, rightful 
sovereign, who had just been born." (Alexander.) — 
To worship him. The word worship is often used in 
the Old and New Testaments where real adoration is 
not meant. It is, however, very truly remarked by 
Dr. Alexander, that a mere civil homage could not 
well be the sole object of these Magi, and would 
have been wholly out of place upon the part of 
Herod. (See verse 8.) There must, therefore, be 
meant a religious homage to the Messiah. 



Verse 3. Herod was troubled, because he appre- 
hended the overthrow of his throne. The inhab- 
itants of Jerusalem were troubled, partly because 
some of them belonged to the party of Herod, and 
partly because they feared the cruelties of Herod, 
which he would most likely commit against them in 
his efforts to maintain his power. Well does Dr. 
Whedon remark on this verse: "It was a bold and 
alarming question put by these new-comers. It 
would have been treason to the reigning king, if 
there were not some superhuman authority in it." 

Verse 6. The prophecy (Micah v, 2) is quoted 
freely. There is internal evidence, as we shall 
presently show, that the difference in the quota- 
tion, both from the Hebrew text and from that of 
the LXX, is to be attributed to the Evangelist, not 
to those to whom Herod had addressed the question. 
In the place of the words, " Thou art not the least 
among the princes of Judah," the text in Micah 
reads : " Though thou be little among the thousands 
of Judah." The meaning of the two expressions is 
evidently the same. The prophet says that Bethle- 
hem was, indeed, small, and scarcely able to take a 
place among the ruling divisions of the land, but 
was, nevertheless, destined to become great; namely, 
as the God-ordained birthplace of the Messiah. The 
Evangelist expresses the same idea, only with this 
difference, that he speaks of Bethlehem's insignifi- 
cance as something past: "Thou wast, indeed, once 
small, but art so no longer, having already obtained 
what must render thee great and renowned." Nor 
is there any discrepancy between the expressions: 



of ecclesiastical jurisprudence. A select number of 
these soribes was associated -with the chief -priests to 
constitute the Sanhedrim or supreme legislative body 
of the Jewish nation. B Their chests or bales, contain- 
ing their treasures. 9 A gum from the trunk of a tree, 



obtained by slitting the bark. It was used for incense 
in worship, and is very fragrant when burned. It is 
found not only in Arabia, but also in Persia. 10 An aro- 
matic gum, exuding from a thorn-bush in Arabia. It 
was valued chiefly for embalming the dead. 



206 



MATTHEW II, 1-12. 



"among the princes of Judah" and "among the 
thousands of Judah." The Jewish people were di- 
vided into families or chiliads, (Judges vi, 25,) at 
the head of which were princes or leaders. (Exod. 
xviii, 21; Numb, i, 16.) These princes are named 
by Matthew in the place of the families themselves, 
and these families in the place of the cities where 
they resided. — It is very remarkable that Bethle- 
hem is not named among the cities of Judah in the 
Hebrew text of Joshua xv, 59, although inserted 
with ten others by the LXX, who, to make the text 
and context uniform, subjoin the summary, "Eleven 
cities, with their villages." However we may ac- 
count for it, it is a proof of the obscurity of Bethle- 
hem. — For out op thee shall come. This means 
evidently that Bethlehem should give birth to the 
person described. It is, therefore, not applicable to 
Zerubbabel, or to any other person than our Lord 
Jesus Christ, as is irrefutably proved by the addi- 
tional clause in Micah, "Whose goings forth have 
been from of old, from everlasting." To quote this 
clause was not required by the occasion, either on 
the part of the Sanhedrim or on that of the Evan- 
gelist. — A Governor, that shall rule my people 
Israel. More correctly translated: "A Leader, 
who shall pasture my people." There is reference 
to the office of a shepherd, (comp. Isa. xl, 11 ; Ezek. 
xxxiv, 23,) which includes protection and control, 
as well as feeding. 

Verse 7. Herod examined the Magi as to the 
time when the star had appeared unto them, in 
order to learn thereby the age of the child for the 
purpose of killing it. Relying implicitly upon the 
simple-hearted Magi, from whose minds he had, as 
he supposed, removed all suspicion, he neglected to 
send spies with them, and thus his prey escaped 
from him. Thus the greatest cunning is often vis- 
ited with blindness in the decisive moment. 

Verse 11. And when they were come into the 
House. The cause why the parents had sought shel- 
ter in a stable, or cave, existed no longer. The 
arrival of the Magi of Bethlehem we must fix im- 
mediately after the presentation of the child in the 
Temple. (Introductory remarks of § 4.) The greater 
part of the people, who had come to Bethlehem to 
be taxed, had left again, and in this way the holy 
family had succeeded in finding more convenient 
lodgings. — They presented unto him gifts. The 
ancient Fathers ascribed symbolical meanings to 
these gifts. The gold has been thought to refer to 
his royal office, the incense to his divinity, the myrrh 
to his death. Again : from the three kinds of gifts 
which were presented, it has been inferred that the 
visitors were three in number; and, with reference 
to the prophecy in Psa. lxxii, 10, and Isa. Ix, 6, the 
tradition arose that they were kings from three dif- 
ferent countries. The nature of the gifts furnishes 
no ground to believe that they came from Arabia; 
for these gifts were general products of the East, 
not confined to any particular country. — Whether 



the Magi themselves ascribed any symbolical mean- 
ing to their gifts is very doubtful ; nor have we any 
reason to suppose that they had a conception of the 
mystery of the incarnation. But the homage which 
they paid to the infant, found in poverty and obscur- 
ity, proves conclusively that they recognized in him 
the great and holy Priest-King of the Jews, "the 
desire of all nations." 



HOMILETIC SUGGESTIONS. 

1. The Savior was scarcely born when the words 
of old Simeon were fulfilled, that he was a light to 
lighten the Gentiles, (Luke ii, 32;) for the Magi 
were not Israelites. 

2. God has true worshipers and servants, also, 
without the pale of the visible Church. Such were 
undoubtedly these Magi. The conduct of the scribes, 
on the other hand, shows that those who enjoy the 
brightest light often improve it least. The scribes 
knew that the Messiah was to be born at Bethlehem, 
yet they did not consider it worth their while to 
travel the short distance from Jerusalem to Bethle- 
hem, while the Magi, with infinitely less light, had 
undertaken a long and laborious journey in order to 
find him. We ought to shun neither labor nor ex- 
pense to attain to a saving knowledge of Christ. 

3. The Magi have also set an example worthy to 
be imitated by all the wise men of this world. Like 
the Magi, these ought not to be ashamed to seek 
Christ and to bow to him. Genuine philosophy 
leads to Christ. Science should be the handmaid 
of religion. Learning and religion are perfectly 
consistent with each other; yet without the light 
of faith all our knowledge is fragmentary, and with- 
out the Word of God all the stars of heaven leave 
us in the dark But whoever follows the light he 
has, however faint it may be, is brought, by God's 
grace, to the full knowledge of the truth. Without 
the Word of God and the enlightening influences 
of his Spirit, Christ and his kingdom can not be 
found. God's Word is the star that points to Christ, 
and if we follow it we shall infallibly come to Christ. 
(2 Peter i, 19; 2 Tim. iii, 7.) 

4. The mere knowledge of the letter of the Bible 
avails but little. "If ye know these things, happy 
are ye if ye do them." These very scribes act, on a 
subsequent occasion, contrary to their better knowl- 
edge, saying : " When Christ cometh, no man know- 
eth whence he is." (John vii, 27.) 

5. Although no one else paid any regard to the 
infant child at Bethlehem, and although the Magi 
saw nothing but a weak, helpless child, yet they did 
not suffer themselves to be prevented thereby from 
paying their homage to him whom God had pro- 
claimed to them by the star as the King of the 
Jews. 

6. When even the appearance of Christ as a 
helpless child caused consternation, what will be 



FLIGHT INTO EGYPT AND RETURN TO NAZARETH. 



207 



the effects of his coming to judgment? The coming 
of Christ's kingdom is always terrible to the un- 
godly. But how great is the joy of the pious when 
the light rises in darkness ! 

7. The Magi paid homage only to the child, with- 
out taking any further notice of Mary, his mother, 
while the Church of Rome pays, to this very day, a 
degree of respect to Mary that is not due to any 
created intelligence. 



8. Herod's motive in directing the Magi to Beth- 
lehem was malice and treachery; but God knows 
how to foil all the cunning devices of worldly men. 
He can cause even the wrath of men to work out 
his sovereign will. The accomplishment of his pur- 
poses is safe in the hands of devout, upright men. 
"He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous." 
(Prov. ii, 1.) Or, as the German has it, "The Lord 
gives success to men of honest purpose." 



§4. MURDER OF THE INFANTS OF BETHLEIIEM — FLIGHT INTO EGYPT AND 

RETURN TO NAZARETH. 

The salvation of the world depended on the life of an infant threatened by Herod, 
a tyrant, whose dagger had always reached its victim. At the very entrance of the 
eternal light into our benighted world, it was to become manifest that the incarnate Son 
of God would achieve his final triumph only through the sorest trials and the severest 
Bufferings. So intense was the hatred of the world against God and his Christ, that, 
shortly after the birth of the latter, innocent children were on his account put to death. 
But the eyes of his Father watched over the infant Savior, and the world was not per- 
mitted to touch his life. Neither in the Old nor in the New Testament was the "child 
Israel" to suffer harm. (Hos. xi, 1.) 

According to Luke ii, 39, Joseph and Mary came back to Nazareth, after having pre- 
sented the child in the Temple, but, according to Matthew, not before their return from 
Egypt. It is self-evident that the presentation did not take place between the visit 
of the Magi and the flight into Egypt; nor can we suppose that it was deferred till 
after the return from Egypt. The language of Luke ii, 21 and 22, compared with v.'ise 
39, plainly intimates that as the circumcision took place on the eighth or legal day, so 
did the presentation on the fortieth. Till this day the mother was regarded as unclean, 
and was to abide at home. It is, therefore, in the highest degree improbable that the 
adoration of the Magi and the flight into Egypt should have previously taken place. 
This supposition is, moreover, inconsistent with Matthew's statement, that after Joseph 
had heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea, he was afraid to go thither. How 
much less would he have dared to go to Jerusalem, and enter publicly into the Temple ! 
Finally: if Mary had received the gifts of the Magi before she presented her child, we 
may suppose that she would not have offered the offering of the poor, but would havo 
used the gold to provide a better offering. There is, therefore, an apparent discrepancy 
between Matthew and Luke, but it is easily explained. Luke, in describing the events 
preceding the birth of Christ, had mentioned Nazareth as the residence of Mary, and 
his notice, in chap, ii, 4, that Joseph resided also in Nazareth prior to his journey to Beth- 
lehem, came thus in very naturally; yea, it followed as a matter of course from chap. i. 
Now, as the residence in Bethlehem can have lasted only a few months, and as Luke 
does not mention the visit of the Magi and the flight into Egypt — which could likewise 
not have lasted long, since Herod died a few months afterward — it is very natural for 
him to make the general remark, that the parents of Jesus did not make Bethlehem 
their permanent residence, but returned again to Galilee. Matthew, on the other hand, 
for whom the Savior's birth at Bethlehem was very significant as the fulfillment of a 
prophecy, but who had found no occasion to state the circumstances which had brought 
about the journey to Bethlehem, describes Bethlehem as the residence of Joseph, and 
that correctly, as this really seems to have been his design, and having said nothing of a 
previous stay at Nazareth, the Evangelist could not call Joseph's going to Nazareth for 



208 



MATTHEW II, 13-23. 



the purpose of living there a "return;" and, attaching great importance to the fact that, 
by Jesus' residence in the despised Galilee, a prophecy had been fulfilled, it was but nat- 
ural for him to state the special providence which had brought about the settling of 
Jesus' parents in Nazareth. As he says, however, that Joseph selected Nazareth with- 
out giving any reasons for this choice, he takes it evidently for granted that these 
reasons were well known to his readers; namely, that Joseph had resided there before, 
as Luke expressly states. 

"Verses 13—33. 

(13) And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth 
to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, 
and flee into Egypt, x and be thou there until I bring thee word : for Herod will 
seek the young child to destroy him. (14) "When he arose, he took the young 
child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt : (15) and was there 
until the death of Herod : that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord 
by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. (16) Then Herod, 
when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent 
forth, and slew all the children 2 that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts 
thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had dili- 
gently inquired of the wise men. (17) Then was fulfilled that which was spoken 
by Jeremy the prophet, saying, (18) In Rama was there a voice heard, lamenta- 
tion, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and 
would not be comforted, because they are not. (19) But when Herod was dead, 
behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, (20) saying, 
Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel : for 
they are dead which sought the young child's life. (21) And he arose, and took 
the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. (22) But when 
he heard that Archelaus 3 did reign 4 in Judea 5 in the room of his father Herod, he 
was afraid to go thither : notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he 
turned aside into the parts of Galilee. 6 (23) And he came and dwelt in a city 
called Nazareth : 7 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He 
shall be called a Nazarene. 



1 Egypt, although subject to the Romans, was beyond 
tho reach of Herod, and was extensively populated by 
Jews, who had there a number of synagogues and even 
a temple. 2 Namely, all male children, the sense being 
limited to one sex by the masculine adjective and ar- 
ticle. 3 " Archelaus was the eldest son of Herod the 
Groat, by his Samaritan wife Matthace, to whom he be- 
queathed his crown and royal title ; but Augustus only 
partially confirmed the will, confining his dominions to 
Judea, Idumea, and Samaria, and requiring him to 
bear the title ethnarch till he should prove himself 
worthy to be called a king. After reigning eight or 
nine years, he was summoned to Rome to answer 
charges of oppression and cruelty, and afterward ban- 
ished to Vienna, in Gaul." (Alexander.) i Literally, 
" reigns." The Greek word here used means to reign 
as a king. This was true of Archelaus immediately 
after his father's death, before his will was broken by 
Augustus. The word has, however, also the general 



sense " to rule." 5 Judea, also called "Jewry," derived 
its name from the patriarch Judah. At tho time of 
our Savior, the "promised land" formed a part of the 
Roman Empire, and was divided into four parts : 
1. Judea; 2. Samaria; 3. Galilee; and, 4. The land 
beyond Jordan, Persea. Judea was the most south- 
erly, lying mainly between the Dead Sea and the Med- 
iterranean. 6 See foot-note to chapter iv, verse 15. 
7 Stanley gives tho following account of Nazareth: "It 
is one peculiarity of the Galilean hills, as distinct from 
those of Ephraim or Judah, that they contain or sus- 
tain green basins of table-land just before their topmost 
ridges. Such, above all, is Nazareth. Fifteen gently- 
rounded hills ' seem as if they had met to form an in- 
closure ' for this peaceful basin ; ' they rise round it like 
the edge of a shell to guard it from intrusion. It is a 
rich and beautiful field ' in the midst of these green 
hills, abounding in gay flowers, in fig-trees, small gar- 
dens, hedges of the prickly pear; and the dense, rich 



FLIGHT INTO EGYPT AND RETURN TO NAZARETH. 



209 



Verses 13, 14. It is plain that the flight into 
Egypt took place immediately after the departure of 
the Magi. A journey to Egypt on the much-trav- 
eled high-road took only a few days; and the gifts 
of the Magi may have served to defray the expenses. 

Verse 15. Herod died a few months after this 
flight, of a fulsome disease, of which Josephus has 
given us a detailed description, (Hist, of Jews, xvii, 
6.) The words of the prophet, to which the Evan- 
gelist refers, are: "When Israel was a child, then I 
loved him, and called my son out of Egypt." (Hos. 
xi, 1.) The prophet spoke here of the recall of 
Israel from out of Egypt. The people of Israel is 
called, in the Old Testament, the son of God, (Ex. 
iv, 22; Deut. xix, 5,) because God begat him, (Deut, 
xxxii, 6, 18,) to be the people to which he desired to 
reveal his name, in whose midst he desired to dwell, 
that were to worship him according to his own direc- 
tion, whose development he guided by special provi- 
dences. Enlightened through the revelation of Jeho- 
vah, Israel was to become the servant that carries 
the light of the true God to the Gentiles, the first- 
born that leads the other nations to the worship of 
God, "a kingdom of priests, a holy nation." (Ex. 
xix, 5, 6.) But this high and sacred calling of Is- 
rael found its complete fulfillment only in the incar- 
nation of the Son of God. Israel was in this sense 
a historical type, by its typical history a prophecy 
concerning the Messiah. This typical relation be- 
tween Israel and the Messiah we find alluded to in 
many passages of the Old Testament, especially in 
the prophet Isaiah, (Isa. xlii, 1-8; xlix, 1-13.) Thus 
the history of even the childhood of our Savior was 
so directed by Divine Providence that it became the 
antitype of the typical history of Israel. As God 
led Israel into Egypt, in order to preserve it there 
from death by famine, and led it out again thence, 
that it might fulfill its calling, so the infant Jesus 
was taken to Egypt and back again, the antitype 
of the whole typical history of IsraeL 

Verse 16. Herod waited, in all probability, sev- 
eral days for the return of the Magi, and so Joseph 
had time enough to reach a place of safety. — From 
two tears old and under. This expression is in- 
definite. It may include only those who had begun 



the second year. As more or less time had elapsed 
between the first appearance of the star and the set- 
ting out of the Magi, Herod fixed upon this age in 
order not to miss his prey. As Bethlehem, however, 
was a small place, the number of the children mur- 
dered can not have been very large, and the silence 
of Josephus is not surprising. The crime was but 
one of the innumerable and equally-atrocious acts 
of Herod, and it may never have come to the knowl- 
edge of the Jewish historian; and, if he had heard 
of it, he may have passed it over in silence, to avoid 
every thing that drew attention to the Messianic 
hopes of his people. Still less surprising is the 
silence of heathen historians. 

Verses 17, 18. Here, as well as in verse 15, the 
Evangelist speaks of the fulfillment of a type, not 
of a prophecy proper. (See Jer. xl, 1; comp. with 
chap, xxxi, 15, 16.) Rama was a town of the tribe 
of Benjamin, not far from Bethlehem, a city of 
Judah. Much as the two events vary which caused 
mourning and lamentation, yet the Evangelist had 
good reason to refer the latter to the former. Herod 
was the second Nebuchadnezzar, who expected to 
accomplish by inhuman cruelty what the Chaldean 
conqueror fondly dreamed to have accomplished ; 
namely, to have destroyed forever the expectations 
of Israel. When the latter, after the destruction of 
Jerusalem, led the few remnants of the people cap- 
tive away from Rama, he fancied that he had struck 
the fatal blow against Israel. And Herod thought 
that he had accomplished the same end by murder- 
ing the infants of Bethlehem, and with them the 
Infant King of Israel. As Rama was in the terri- 
tory of Benjamin, the prophet introduces the pro- 
genitrix, Rachel, as mourning and lamenting her 
slaughtered, enslaved descendants. How appropri- 
ate is, therefore, the application of her lamentations 
to the heart-rending grief, that came so unexpectedly 
upon the mothers of Bethlehem ! 

Verse 20. For they are dead. These words, 
which were originally addressed to Moses, (Ex. iv, 19,) 
were to remind the parents of the typical character 
of that great man of God, and thus call their atten- 
tion to the rich consolation and promise embodied 
in the providence exercised over the infant Jesus. 



grass affords an abundant pasture. The village stands 
on the steep slope of the south-western side of the 
valley. From the crest of the hills which thus screen 
it, especially from that called ' Nebi-Said,' or ' Ismail,' 
on the western side, is one of the most striking views in 
Palestine. There are Tabor, with its rounded dome, on 
the north-east, Hermon's white top in the distant north, 
Carmel and the Mediterranean Sea to the west, a con- 
junction of those three famous mountains, probably 
unique in the views of Palestine. And, in the nearer 
prospect, there are the uplands in which Nazareth 
itself stands, its own circular basin behind it; on the 
west, inclosed by similar hills overhanging the plain 
of Acre, lies the town of Sepphorieh, the Roman cap- 
ital. On the south and south-cast lies the broad plain 



14 



of Esdraelon, overhung by the high pyramidal hill 
which, as the highest point of the Nazareth range, and 
thus the most conspicuous to travelers approaching from 
the plain, has received, though without any historical 
ground, the name of the 'Mount of Precipitation.' 
These are the natural features which, for nearly thirty 
yeitfs, met the almost daily view of Him who 'increased 
in wisdom and stature' within this beautiful seclusion. 
It is the seclusion which constitutes its peculiarity and 
its fitness for these scenes of the Gospel history. Un- 
known and unnamed in the Old Testament, Nazareth 
first appears as the retired abode of the humble car- 
penter. There, secured within the natural barrier of 
the hills, was passed that youth, of which the most 
remarkable characteristic is its absolute obscurity." 



210 



MATTHEW III, 1-12. 



Verse 23. " The very use of the plural, ' by the 
prophets,' ought to prepare us to expect what we 
find to be the case, that this is no citation from any 
particular prophet, but expresses the declaration of 
several. 'By saying prophets, not prophet, the 
Evangelist shows that he quotes the Old Testament, 
not literally, but as to its meaning.' (Hieron., in 
Loc.) We seem justified, then, in assigning to the 
word 'Nazarene' all the meanings legitimately be- 
longing to it, by derivation or otherwise, which are 
concurrent with the declarations of the prophets in 
reference to our Lord. We may, therefore, both 
with the early Hebrew Christians, (see Jerome,) and 
apparently the whole Western Church, trace this 
prophetic declaration, 1. Principally and primarily, 
in all the passages which refer to the Messiah under 
the title of the Branch (nezer) of the root of Jesse, 
(Isa. xi, 1; comp. Jer. xxiii, 5; xxxiii, 15; Zech. vi, 
12 ;) 2. In the references to the circumstances of low- 
liness and obscurity under which that growth was to 
take place, (comp. Isa. liii, 2;) and perhaps further, 
3. In the prophetic notices of a contempt and rejec- 
tion, (Isa. liii, 3,) such as seems to have been the 
common, and, as it would seem in many respects, 
deserved portion of the inhabitants of rude and 
ill-reputed Nazareth." (Ellicott's Life of Christ, 
page 86.) 



HOMILETIC SUGGESTIONS. 

1. God suffers the plans of the wicked to succeed 
only so far as they do not hinder his own designs. 
Thus he permitted — that is, did not prevent — the 



murder of the infants of Bethlehem, because neither 
the work of redemption nor the victims themselves 
sustained thereby any lasting injury. They died for 
Jesus in order to live only for him ; while he lived in 
order to die for them. No price of blood and tears 
is too dear for the preservation of Jesus' life, be- 
cause this life is the price by which the whole world 
is rescued from destruction. 

2. The princes of this world favor but rarely the 
cause of God. They persecute the Church, because 
they can not comprehend that the kingdom of Christ 
is not of this world. It met with bloody persecu- 
tion both in the beginning and during its progress. 
But neither the malice nor the power of men lasts 
long; the final victory is God's. Death carries away 
the enemies of Christ quickly; but the Lord and his 
Word abide forever. 

3. The visit of the Magi was followed by the flight 
into Egypt. Special strengthenings of faith are fol- 
lowed by sore trials. Joy and grief are near neigh- 
bors. We are scarcely born again, when persecution 
arises against us. The Lord, however, knows how 
to snatch his children, in due time, from impending 
harm, and to defeat the designs of his enemies. If 
the members of thy own household drive thee away 
from them, God will prepare a place for thee among 
strangers. The wise men of this world can not pro- 
tect the life of Jesus nor of his Church ; for this 
purpose God employs the angels of heaven, and 
lowly members of his kingdom. 

4. As Christ spent thirty years in seclusion and 
obscurity in the despised Nazareth, before he re- 
vealed his Messianic dignity, so his Church fares. 
(2 Cor. vi, 9.) 



CHAPTER III. 



§5. THE PREACHING AND BAPTISM OF JOHN. 

Between the closing scene of the second chapter and the event which opens the 
third lies the whole period of Jesus' infancy and youth, passed over in silence by Mat- 
thew. Only one instance of it is related by Luke, (ii, 41, etc.;) namely, that Jesus, in 
his twelfth year, went with his parents up to Jerusalem at the feast of the Passover, and 
returned with them thence to Nazareth. So we learn, also, from Mark vi, 3, that he 
staid at Nazareth with his foster-father, working at his trade, till he entered upon his 
public ministry. " In those days" in which John commenced preaching, means, there- 
fore, the time when Jesus was still at Nazareth, at least six months before he entered 
upon his ministry and left Nazareth as his place of residence. Luke, by naming the 
year of government of several temporal and ecclesiastical rulers, enables us to determine 
with precision the time when John entered upon his mission. It was, as we shall show 
in our notes on Luke iii, 1, 2, during the Summer of the year 779. According to "Wiese- 
ler, this was a Sabbatic year, (Bxod. xxiii, 11) — if it was observed by the Jews according 
to its original intent — a most appropriate time for the Baptist to begin his labors. John 
had then reached his thirtieth year, at which time he would have been admitted to the 



THE PREACHING AND BAPTISM OF JOHN. 211 

Temple service as the son of a priest, according to Numbers iv, 3. Trained by his par- 
ents for the austere calling of a Nazarite, (Numb, vi,) according to the directions given 
by the angel, (Luke i, 15,) he had spent his youth in the deserts, (Luke i, 80;) the 
high ground, probably, west of the Dead Sea, mostly uninhabited and untilled. On 
the locality of John's baptism see foot-note. 

By no writer has the office of John the Baptist, as the forerunner of the Messiah, 
been set forth in so lucid and comprehensive a manner as by Mr. Andrews in his "Life 
of our Lord." He says: 

" His work was threefold : First , he was to announce that the kingdom of God was at 
hand and the Messiah about to appear. In this announcement he especially displayed 
his prophetic character. Second, he was to bring the nation to repentance, and ' make 
ready a people prepared for the Lord.' Here he especially manifested himself as a 
preacher of righteousness. Of this righteousness the law was the standard, and by the 
law must the nation be judged. Hence, John was a preacher of the law. The burden 
of his message was, ' Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.' As a wicked, diso- 
bedient people, they were not ready for that kingdom. True, they were ' Abraham's 
children,' and 'sons of the kingdom,' but* this did not suffice. They had broken the holy 
covenant, they had not hearkened to God's voice, and he had punished them terribly in 
his anger. The Baptist came to awaken them to a sense of their guilt, to make them see 
how by their unbelief and sin they had frustrated the grace of God, and thus move 
them to repentance. Comparing the promises of God with their fulfillment, they might 
see how little he had been able to bestow upon them, how little they had answered to the 
end for which he chose them. How glorious the promises, how melancholy the history ! 
Their national independence was gone; the covenant with the house of David was sus- 
pended, and that royal family had sunk into obscurity. Their high-priest was appointed 
by the Boman Governor for political ends, and was a mere tool in his hands ; the priest- 
hood, as a body, was venal and proud ; the voice of prophecy had long been unheard, 
and for the teachings of inspiration were substituted the sophisms and wranglings of the 
Babbis; the law was made, in many of its vital points, of none effect by traditions; the 
nation was divided into contending sects ; a large party, and that comprising some of 
the most rich, able, and influential, were infidels, open or secret ; some, aspiring after a 
higher piety than the observance of the law could give, wholly ceased to observe it, and 
withdrew into the wilderness to follow some self-devised ascetic practices; still more 
were bigots in their reverence for the letter of the law, but wholly ignorant of its spirit, 
and bitter and intolerant toward all whom they had the power to oppress. The people 
at large still continued to glory in their theocratic institutions, in their Temple, in their 
priesthood, and deemed themselves the only true worshipers of God in the world. They 
were unmindful that almost every thing that had constituted the peculiar glory of the 
theocracy was lost by sin; that the Visible Glory that dwelt between the cherubim had 
departed ; that there was no more response by the Urim and Thummim ; that the ark, 
with its attendant memorials, was no more to be found in the Holy of Holies; that all 
those supernatural interpositions that had marked their early history had ceased ; in 
short, that the whole nation 'was turned aside like a deceitful bow.' To the anointed 
eye of the Baptist the unpreparedness of the nation for the Messiah was apparent. He 
saw how in it was fulfilled the language of Isaiah: 'The whole head is sick and the 
whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head, there is no soundness 
in it, but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores ;' and he would, if it were possible, 
awake the people to a sense of their real spiritual condition. Unless this were done, they 
could not receive the Messiah, and his coming could be only to their condemnation and 
destruction. Deliverance was possible only when, like their fathers in Egypt, they be- 
came conscious of their bondage, and began to sigh and cry for deliverance. (Ex. ii, 23.) 
And as the elders of the people gathered themselves together unto Moses and cooperated 



212 



MATTHEW III, 1-12. 



with him, so must now the priests and Levites, and all who, by God's appointment, held 
any office among the people, be co-workers with Jesus. In this way only was it possible 
that the promises of the covenant could take effect, and the predictions of the prophets 
be fulfilled. To awaken in the hearts of the Jews a deeper sense of their sins and of the 
need of cleansing, John established the rite of baptism in the Jordan. He taught that 
this rite was only preparatory, a baptism of repentance, and that the higher baptism 
of the Spirit they must still receive at the hands of the Messiah himself, who was speed- 
ily to come. All whom he baptized came confessing their sins. Thus the extent of his 
baptism was an index how general the repentance of the people, and, consequently, how 
general the preparation for the Messiah. Third, John was to point out the Messiah per- 
sonally to the nation, when he should appear. This was the culminating point of his 
ministry, and would naturally come at the close of the preparatory work. 

"Let us now survey for a moment the Baptist's ministry as narrated by the Evan- 
gelists, and see how far its purpose was accomplished. First, he aroused general atten- 
tion to the fact that the Messiah was at hand. Second, his jM-eaehing brought great 
numbers to repentance. Multitudes from every part of the land came to his baptism. 
But of these it is probable that many did not understand the significance of the rite, or 
truly repent of their sins. Perhaps with comparatively few was the baptism with water 
a true preparation for the baptism with the Holy Ghost. And it is to be specially noted, 
that those thus coming to John to be baptized were mostly, if not exclusively, of the 
common people, and not of the priests, or Levites, or members of the hierarchical party. 
Many of the Pharisees and Sadducees came to be spectators of the rite, but only with 
hostile intent; or, if some received baptism at his hands, we find few or no traces of 
them in the subsequent history. (Matt, iii, 7; Luke vii, 29, 30.) In the hearts of those 
who sat in Moses' seat, the spiritual rulers and guides of the nation, no permanent sense 
of sin was awakened, and they could not submit to a baptism of which they felt no need. 
To all his exhortations they had the ready and, as they deemed, sufficient reply: 'We 
have Abraham to our father.' Thus John did not effect national repentance. The high- 
est proof of this is seen in the deputation that was sent him from Jerusalem to ask him 
who he was, and by what authority he acted. (John i, 19-27.) It is plain from the nar- 
rative that he was wholly unable to satisfy the Jewish leaders that he was divinely com- 
missioned, or that his baptism had any validity. It followed, of course, that they paid no 
heed to his prophetic or personal testimony to the Messiah. As his last official act, he 
pointed out Jesus in person to the nation as the Messiah. He whom he had foretold was 
come. Henceforth they must see and hear him." 

"Verses 1—13. (Compare Mark i, 1-8; Luke hi, 1-17.) 

(1) In those days came John the Baptist, 1 preaching 2 in the wilderness of 
Judea, 3 (2) and saying, Repent ye : for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (3) For 
this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, 4 saying, The voice of one 
crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 
(4) And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, 5 and a leathern girdle 5 



1 Or, the Baptizer. 2 The Greek verb, translated 
preaching, signifies to make a public announcement or 
proclamation of something, as heralds do. The preach- 
ing mentioned in the Gospel history is not to be under- 
stood in the modern sense of the word. 3 The wilderness 
of Judea was a level tract of land to the east of the 
tribe of Judah, toward the Dead Sea. It was not ex- 
actly a desert, but thinly inhabited, and used for pas- 



ture. The extent of the region designated by this term 
was, however, not clearly defined by it, nor was the 
ministry of John the Baptist confined to this wilderness, 
as appears from Luke iii, 3, 4, and from the fact that he 
was imprisoned by Herod Antipas, whose jurisdiction 
did not extend to Judea. 4 Isaiah xl, 3. 5 A raiment 
of coarse sackcloth, made of camel's hair, such as Eli- 
jah wore. (2 Kings i, 8.) 6 The girdle was used for 



THE PREACHING AND BAPTISM OF JOHN. 



213 



about his loins ; and his meat was locusts r and wild honey. (5) Then went out to 
him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, 8 (6) and 
were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. (7) But when he saw 
many of the Pharisees and Sadducees 9 come to his baptism, he said unto them, 



fastening the robe that hung loose around the body. 
John's consisted of a strip of untanned hide. 7 A sort 
of grasshoppers, permitted to be eaten by the law of 
Moses. (Lev. xi, 22.) That they were used as food by 
the poorer classes is testified not only by ancient writers, 
but also by modern travelers. Burkhardt, as quoted by 
Thomson, says: "I have seen, at Medina and Tayf, 
locust shops, where these animals were sold by the 
measure. In Egypt and Nubia they are only eaten by 
the poorest beggars. The Arabs, in preparing locusts 
as an article of food, throw them alive into boiling 
water, with which a good deal of salt has been mixed. 
After a few minutes, they are taken out and dried in 
the sun; the head, feet, and wings are then torn off; 
the bodies are cleansed from the salt and perfectly 
dried, after which process whole sacks are filled with 
them by the Bedouins. They are sometimes eaten 
boiled in butter, and they often contribute materials 
for a breakfast, when spread over unleavened bread 
mixed with butter. s The Jordan is the principal river 
of Palestine. It has its sources at the southern slope 
of Lebanon and at Hermon. At a distance of about 
seven miles it flows through the Lake Merom, from 
whence it proceeds for about nine miles to the Lake of 
Tiberias, and has a fall of four hundred feet. In pass- 
ing through the lake the waters of the river do not 
mingle with those of the lake. From thence to the 
Dead Sea it flows rapidly in a tortuous channel, with a 
fall of about one thousand feet. Its breadth, when it 
comes out of Lake Merom, is about twenty paces, after 
passing through Lake Tiberias eighty, and when it en- 
ters the Dead Sea from two to three hundred, with a 
depth of channel of about three feet, which is, how- 
ever, much increased by the Spring rains. 9 The names 
of two parties in the Jewish Church. As they are here 
mentioned for the first time in the New Testament, we 
subjoin a description of their respective principal tenets, 
adding also, in order to make the picture complete, 
those of the sect of the Essenee, who arc, indeed, not men- 
tioned in the New Testament, but are well known from 
Josephus. I. The Pharisees claimed to be the orthodox 
party, and were more numerous and influential than 
their opponents, the Sadducees. Their name is derived 
from the Hebrew verb Pharash, which means to separate. 
When, after the return from exile, many Jews com- 
menced to leave the law of their fathers and to imitate 
the customs of the Greeks and Romans, those that op- 
posed these innovations were called Pharisees; that is, 
Separatists. It would seem that their zeal for the law 
and the religion of their fathers was at first sincere and 
genuine ; but in the course of time they attached as 
much importance to the traditions of the elders as to 
the law itself, and by multiplying the former, and in- 
sisting more and more upon the mere letter of the law, 
and especially upon the ceremonial law, they became 
self-righteous, sanctimonious, and hypocritical. Their 
principal tenets were as follows: Every thing comes to 
pass by Divine predestination, yet so as not to destroy 
entirely the freedom of the human will; the souls of 
men are immortal, and, beyond the grave, either happy 



or miserable; the dead are raised; there are good and 
bad angels ; the Jews have a legal right upon the espe- 
cial favor of God, and are justified by the merit of Abra- 
ham or by their own fulfillment of the law. In conse- 
quence of their self-righteousness they were proud and 
overbearing, and despised the common people. (John 
vii, 49.) They aspired to the high offices of state, and 
pretended to great personal dignity. They acquired 
great political importance by being scattered over the 
whole country and constituting the majority in the San- 
hedrim. In political conflicts they generally played the 
demagogue. They prided themselves on their scrupu- 
lous observance of the outward duties of religion, prayed 
at the corners of the streets, and strove to acquire the 
favor of the people by giving alms. They attached, 
also, great importance to ablutions and ceremonial 
cleanliness. Some of the laws of Moses they kept very 
strictly. In addition to the written law they had the 
so-called traditions, professedly handed down from 
Moses, to which they attached the same importance as 
to the written law. In obedience to these traditions 
they washed themselves before every meal ; they fasted 
twice a week ; namely, on Monday, on which day they 
believed that Moses had come down from Sinai, and on 
Thursday, on which day they believed that he had gone 
up; they wore wide cloaks, with large borders, to which 
they affixed passages of the law ; they coveted the first 
seats at meals and in the synagogues. On the whole, 
they were a corrupt, hypocritical, and vain set of men ; 
but there were also honorable exceptions to this rule. 
(Acts v, 34; Mark xv, 43; Luke ii, 25 ; xxiii, 51; John 
xix, 38.) In the days of Jesus they were doctrinally 
divided into two schools, that of Hillel and that of 
Shammai — the former representing moderate, the latter 
strict Pharisaism. During the closing years of the Jew- 
ish polity the Pharisees were the ecclesiastical rulers of 
the people, although the highest posts of honor were, at 
times, held by the Sadducees. They fostered that feel- 
ing of discontent which led to several rebellions against 
the Romans, and finally brought on the downfall of 
their polity and the destruction of Jerusalem. II. The 
Sadducees. Their name is generally derived from a 
certain Zadok, who taught about 260 B. C, and is con- 
sidered the founder of this sect. Zadok was a disciple 
of Antigonus Loehajus, President of the Sanhedrim, 
who had taught that we must serve God from pure, dis- 
interested motives, without expectation of reward or 
fear of punishment. Zadok, who did not correctly un- 
derstand the teaching of his master, drew the inference 
from it that there was no future state of retribution. 
Their other tenets were : 1. There is no resurrection, 
nor angel, nor spirit. (Matt, xxii, 23; Acts xxiii, 8.) 
2. They rejected the doctrine of the Pharisees concerning 
fate, and, 3, all tradition. They were less numerous than 
the Pharisees, but counted their adherents generally 
among the great and the wealthy, and were admirers 
of Grecian philosophy and manners. Their infidel and 
libertine principles met with but little favor among the 
people, for which reason they were very reserved in pro- 
fessing their principles. Yet some of them held the 



214 



MATTHEW III, 1-12. 



generation of vipers, 10 who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 
(8) Bring forth therefore fruits meet for 11 repentance: (9) and think not to say 
within yourselves, "We have Abraham to our father : for I say unto you, that God 
is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. (10) And now also the 
ax is laid unto the root of the trees : therefore every tree which bringeth not forth 
good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. (11) I indeed baptize you with 
water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose 
shoes 12 I am not worthy to bear : he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and 
with fire: (12) whose fan 13 is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, 14 
and gather his wheat into the garner; 15 but he will burn up the chaff 16 with 
unquenchable fire. 



Verse 2. Repent — /Lteravoslre ; that is, change 
your mind, or have an afterview. The Greek word 
does not only mean to feel sorrow, but also to 
change one's view or purpose, both being the effect 
of greater light having been poured on the soul. 
In Hebrews xii, 17, it means the change of Isaac's 
purpose with regard to the blessing pronounced 
upon Jacob. Its leading idea is a return from evil 
to good, a change of mind, that is, of views and 
purposes. This change of mind includes the con- 
viction of having done wrong, to feel sorry for it, 
and to resolve to leave off sinning; all of which 
man, as a free moral agent, has to do in order to be 
saved. The word /xsTa/xelecdai, likewise rendered by 
repenting — as in the case of Judas — signifies simply a 
change of feeling, sorrow, though it leads to despair; 
while fj-eravoelv always means grief connected with a 
change of heart. The " repentance" to salvation 
(2 Cor. vii, 10) is fierdvoia, not fiera/ielem. — What 
Luke (xiii, 10-14) quotes from the preaching of 
John shows that he understood by the /icrdvoia re- 
quired of the Jewish people not yet that change of 



heart in its full spiritual sense, which the Holy Ghost 
works, declaring expressly, as Neander observes, 
" that, in order to bring about that total moral 
change which admits to a participation in the king- 
dom of God to be established by the Messiah, a 
Divine, creative power is required, which he was 
unable to bestow." And as those to whom John 
preached repentance could not change their hearts 
themselves, in the Gospel sense of the term, so 
man, to this very day, is unable to do this. Evan- 
gelical repentance, including a thorough change of 
heart, is, in the nature of the case, indispensably 
necessary for man's salvation; and it is, therefore, 
made his solemn duty to repent, not as if he could 
do it of his own accord, but, being convinced of its 
absolute necessity, he is to seek supernatural assist- 
ance. Praying to God, then, for the needful influ- 
ences of the Spirit, with a heart painfully conscious 
of its entire sinfulness, this prayer is heard and an- 
swered, and the Spirit of God accomplishes the great 
work of changing the heart. — For the kingdom op 
heaven is at hand, literally, the kingdom of the 



high-priesthood. After the resurrection of Christ, the 
hostility to the apostles arose mainly from the Sad- 
ducees. (Acts iv, 5.) But their denial of the resur- 
rection of the dead was a point which Paul knew how 
to turn to good aoeount. (Acts xxiii, 6.) With the 
destruction of Jerusalem they completely disappear. 
III. The Essenes formed a community by themselves in 
the desert near the Dead Sea. They had their property 
in common ; they wore a white garment of the order, 
and followed very strict rules in diet, labor, and public 
worship. They were divided into four classes, that were 
strictly separated from each other. Only one of these 
classes was permitted to marry. They were in groat 
repute for veracity, chastity, and industry. Their relig- 
ious principles resembled those of the Pharisees more 
than those of the Sadducees. The fact that they are 
not mentioned in the New Testament is readily ac- 
counted for: they lived away from the rest of the peo- 
ple, did not cherish their Messianic hopes, and were, 
therefore, not noticed by our Lord. There is a strong 
resemblance between these Essenes and monkery, that 
afterward developed itself in the Roman Catholic 
Church. l0 The viper is beautiful to the eye, while it is 



full of venom ; its outward appearance is that of harm- 
lessness. Vipers measure in length about four feet, and 
in thickness more than an inch. They are of a dirty 
gray color, spotted, and very venomous. n An obsolete 
expression for "worthy of." 12 The shoes of the Ori- 
entals were sandals, mere soles of wood or hide, cover- 
ing the bottom of the foot, and fastened on with thongs. 
Within the house they are laid aside by visitors in the 
antechamber. With the Jews, Greeks, and Romans it 
was the duty of menials to bear the sandals of their 
masters. John's meaning, therefore, is: I am not 
worthy to do the least service to him that comes after 
me. 13 In the Orient, grain is thrashed out and then 
thrown by a hand-scoop against the wind. u By the 
Oriental thrashing-floor we have to understand a piece 
of the field, circular and beaten hard, on which grain 
was thrashed out, either by oxen or by a thrashing- 
wagon pulled by oxen. Here floor stands, by meton- 
omy, for the grain on it, which was not yet separated 
from the chaff". 15 Or granary. Grain was kept in the 
Orient, for the most part, in subterraneous vaults. 
ie Chaff was burned with the straw, either on the field 
or used as fuel. 



THE PREACHING AND BAPTISM OF JOHN. 



215 



heavens. In Greek, the plural "heavens" is used in 
imitation of the usage of the Hebrews, who under- 
stood by the "heaven of heavens," or "third heaven," 
the residence of Jehovah, as distinguished from the 
sky or aerial heavens, and the firmament, the place 
of the stars and other heavenly bodies. This term, 
"kingdom of heaven," is peculiar to Matthew; the 
other Evangelists use for it, "kingdom of God;" that 
the two terms are, however, identical in meaning 
appears from a comparison of Matthew iv, 17; v, 3; 
xi, 11; xiii, 11; xix, 4, with Luke vi, 20; Mark i, 15; 
Luke vii, 28; Mark iv, 11; x, 1-1; John iii, 3. These 
two expressions have two leading ideas or meanings; 
namely, the kingdom of glory, as Matthew v, 10-12; 
vii, 21, 22, 23; Mark ix, 46, 47; but for the most 
part, the kingdom of Christ on earth, of whose es- 
tablishment the prophet Daniel had prophesied, (ii, 
44:) "and in the day of these kings shall the God 
of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be 
destroyed." Of this kingdom the Old Testament 
theocracy, in which Jehovah was King of Israel, and 
Israel his people and kingdom, was a type This 
kingdom of God, however, was taken from the Jews 
and given to the Gentiles, (Matt, xxi, 43,) because 
they rejected in their carnal hearts the true Messiah, 
expecting a temporal one, who would come with 
signs from heaven, make war upon and conquer the 
nations, especially the Romans. In diametrical op- 
position to these false notions John announced the 
nearness of the Messianic kingdom as a spiritual 
kingdom, into which no one could enter without a 
change of mind. In this sense the term is also 
used, Matthew iv, 17; x, 7; Luke x, 9; xvii, 21; 
Mark i, 14; Luke xvi, 16; almost in all the parables, 
and in Matthew xi, 12; xiii, 11, 19, 52; xvi, 19; 
xxiii, 13; Mark xii, 34; Luke xiv, 15. In other 
passages it seems more to mean the kingdom of 
glory than that of grace, or both, as, e. g., Matthew 
v, 3, 19, 20; vi, 33; viii, 11; xix, 12, 24; xx, 21; 
Mark x, 19, 15, 23; Luke xviii, 29; xxii, 29. The 
leading idea of the " kingdom of God " is, that God 
reigns in it supremely; not, however, by physical 
force, as in the kingdom of nature, but by his grace 
in the hearts of the believers, who are thereby 
changed and sanctified. To this fundamental idea 
of the kingdom of God it is owing that it is spoken 
of at times as something inward and already pres- 
ent, (Luke xix, 21; Col. i, 13; Heb. xii, 28,) at other 
times as something future, (Matt, vii, 21; Acts xiv, 
22; 1 Cor. xv, 50.) Of the many parables used by 
our Savior to illustrate the nature of the kingdom 
of God, some set forth more particularly the time of 
its establishment, others the blessings and privileges 
dispensed to the members thereof, others its institu- 
tions, others, again, its outward, visible completion 
on earth, which, however, will not take place till the 
Church shall have spread over the whole earth, and 
been thoroughly sanctified from within. 

Verse 3. In John was fulfilled, what two proph- 
ets of the Old Testament (Isa. xl, and Mai. iii) had 



prophesied of the herald who should go before the 
Lord. As it was customary in the Orient for kings, 
who wanted to take a journey through desert or 
thinly-settled regions, to send heralds in advance, in 
order to make the roads passable, and to remove all 
obstacles, so John the Baptist was sent to preach 
repentance, and remove thereby all obstacles that 
were in the way of the reception of the coming Mes- 
siah; that is, those false views, worldly notions, and 
carnal expectations of the Jews concerning the Mes- 
siah and his kingdom, and thus to prepare for the 
Lord the way to the hearts of his people. By con- 
necting repentance with the kingdom of heaven, 
John shows plainly its spiritual character. 

Verse 4. How well adapted was John's whole 
appearance to stir up the consciences of the people! 
Every thing connected with him preached repent- 
ance — the desert, his raiment, his meat. He was a 
faithful copy of Elijah, (2 Kings i, 8;) for which rea- 
son, Malachi, (iv, 5,) beholding the character of the 
forerunner of our Lord in the image of Elijah, calls 
him Elijah himself. With the description of John 
and his public ministry given by the Evangelist, the 
Jewish historian, Josephus, agrees in substance, 
simply translating the term "repentance" into lan- 
guage intelligible and palatable to his Greek read- 
ers. He says, (Ant., XVIII, 5, 2,) that he exhorted the 
Jews to practice virtue, justice toward each other, 
and piety toward God, and to come together in order 
to be baptized by him. That Josephus notices only 
the moral element in John's preaching, and says 
nothing of his testimony of the Messiah, is not sur- 
prising. The contrary would give just reason to 
suspect the genuineness of his statement, for Jose- 
phus ignored the Messianic hopes of his nation in 
his whole history, perhaps apprehending to give 
offense to the Romans. 

Verse 5. The powerful impression which the 
Baptist produced is shown by the vast concourse 
of people, not only from the regions about the Jor- 
dan, but from all the parts of Judea — for this we 
have to understand by "all Judea" — and even from 
Jerusalem, whence the Sanhedrim sent an official 
delegation to him. Although many came not with 
singleness of heart, as was the case with the scribes 
and Pharisees, and although but comparatively few 
of those that were baptized by John actually received 
Christ, yea, although some of John's disciples as- 
sumed afterward a position hostile to the Gospel; 
yet we can safely say, that John by his preaching 
laid the preparatory foundation for the Church of 
the New Testament, for not only a part of the apos- 
tles, but most probably a majority of those five 
hundred brethren spoken of, 1 Cor. xv, 6, were 
brought to Christ by John. 

Verse 6. And were baptized of him. This was 
a new ordinance enjoined upon John by a special 
command of God, as we learn from John i, 33; 
Luke iii, 2, 3 ; vii, 30 ; and especially from Matthew 
xxi, 24-27; and was acknowledged as such by the 



216 



MATTHEW III, 1-12. 



people, (Matt, xxi, 26.) The question asked by the 
Pharisees, (John i, 25,) "Why baptizest thou then?" 
proves also, conclusively, that the baptism of John 
was not derived from the baptism or lustration of 
proselytes at their admission into the Jewish Church, 
a practice which was of later origin, and totally dif- 
ferent in its form. Such proselytes were circum- 
cised, and had to bring an oblation, preceded by a 
Levitical lustration; when the oblation ceased, with 
the destruction of the Temple, the lustration alone 
was left as a memorial of it. John's baptism was, 
like the symbolical washings prescribed by the Mo- 
saic law, an emblem of that moral renovation which 
was to be the condition of participating in the Mes- 
sianic kingdom now near at hand, for which reason, 
John says, (v. 11,) "I baptize you with water unto 
repentance;" and Mark and Luke calkhis baptism a 
"baptism of repentance," with the addition, "for the 
remission of sins;" that is, with the promise that the 
remission of sins would be granted by him who 
would baptize with the Holy Ghost. — The baptism 
of John was not intended to take the place of cir- 
cumcision, which remained the sign of the covenant 
till the institution of the Christian baptism ; for this 
reason John did not baptize whole families, as the 
apostles did, but only adults ; it was only a prepara- 
tory, (John i, 31,) transient institution. Those 
whom John baptized made no profession of their 
faith in the Messiah as having already come, and we 
may infer from this, that when they were afterward 
admitted into the Christian Church they were bap- 
tized in the name of Jesus, like the disciples of John 
mentioned Acts xix, 1-6. It is true, there is no in- 
dication, and no probability whatever, of the apostles 
themselves having received the proper Christian bap- 
tism, which they administered unto others; but this 
is not to be wondered at, since their personal inter- 
course with the Savior, their calling to the apostle- 
ship, and their receiving the Holy Ghost in a manner 
different from all other believers, made any other in- 
troduction into the Church of the New Testament 
unnecessary to them. — In Jordan. Inasmuch as the 
Jordan had a double bed, or two banks, this expression 
does by no means indicate that they were immersed. 
" If it be asked why John chose proximity to the 
Jordan, unless it was to obtain a depth of water ade- 
quate to the performance of this rite by immersion, 
it may be replied, that, in a country like Palestine, 
where water was not always and in all places found 
in sufficient quantity for the wants of large gather- 
ings of people with their beasts of burden, it became 
necessary to select a location near some river or 
lake. The wilderness of Judea, where John had 
spent much of his life, had no lake, fountain, or 
stream more suitable for the wants of a large con- 
course of people, like that which thronged around 
him, than the Jordan itself." (Owen.) What is 
more natural than to suppose that they came to the 
edge of the river, and were there sprinkled, or had 
the water poured upon their heads, as some ancient 



pictures really represent the transaction? See more 
on this, verses 11 and 16. But even admitting that 
John baptized by immersion, it follows by no means 
from this, that immersion is every-where an indis- 
pensable ingredient of Christian baptism. As bap- 
tism is merely a symbol of the inward cleansing, 
and as this can be symbolized by sprinkling and 
pouring just as well by immersion, we have no rea- 
son to believe that the quantity of water used at 
baptism, or the method of its application, is a neces- 
sary ingredient of a valid baptism. To suppose that 
Christ made immersion, which is in many countries 
almost impossible, at all events very difficult and 
dangerous to health, indispensably necessary for 
Christian baptism, is hardly consistent with the spir- 
ituality of the Gospel, which never makes the form 
or ceremonial part of any act of public worship some- 
thing essential, nor with its universality, from which 
we may conclude that its few external rites would 
be only such as can be observed in all countries 
and at all times. — Confessing their sins. This 
must not be understood as if every one had con- 
fessed his individual sins, but only that they 'con- 
fessed publicly and fully their guilt before God. The 
confession seems to have been similar to those re- 
corded in Ezra ix, Nehemiah ix, and Daniel ix. 

Verse 7. The Pharisees, whom John addresses 
here more especially, fancied in their self-righteous 
and vain trust in their theocratic descent, that so far 
from being objects of Divine displeasure, God could 
not dispense with their services. — It is very strange 
that the Sadducees presented themselves also as can- 
didates for baptism ; they did so, undoubtedly, in 
order to increase their popularity with the people. 
Josephus says that they often followed the principles 
of the Pharisees against their own convictions, in 
order to rival them in popularity. — ■ From Luke vii, 
30, it would appear, either, that from the great num- 
ber of the Pharisees and lawyers, only a compara- 
tively small number came to John for baptism, or 
that they were deterred from being baptized by bis 
sharp rebukes. — generation of vipers ! or, as 
the Rhemish version has it, brood of vipers. There 
seems to be an allusion to the seed of the serpent. 
(Gen. iii, 15.) — Who has warned you to flee? 
"Retaining the strict sense of the aorist, who warned 
you just now, or before you came out hither? The 
Greek verb elsewhere rendered forewarn, originally 
means to show secretly or partially, denoting a slight 
intimation or suggestion, as distinguished from a full 
disclosure. The infinitive which follows may be con- 
strued as denoting either the necessity of flight, or 
possibility of rescue. ' Who has shown you that you 
must flee ?' or, 'who has shown you that you can es- 
cape?' In either case, the words express surprise; 
on the former supposition, at their having been 
alarmed ; on the latter, at their venturing to hope. 
The first is the most probable." (Alexander.) 
Wrath to come. The word wrath does not denote 
exclusively the punishment of the wicked in the world 



THE PREACHING AND BAPTISM OF JOHN. 



217 



to come, but every impending manifestation of the 
punitive justice of God. It is not to be overlooked 
that the Baptist speaks here in the character of the 
true prophet, foretelling the wrath soon to be poured 
upon the Jewish nation. 

Verses 10-12. John predicts the great process 
of sifting in the kingdom of God, by which all that 
would not bring forth fruits meet for repentance 
would be cut off, cast out, and rejected, while all 
those that had been prepared for the kingdom of 
God by genuine repentance, symbolized and incul- 
cated by his baptism, would be baptized with the 
Holy Ghost and gathered as wheat in the garner of 
God. The effects of the first and second coming of 
Christ are here, as in similar prophecies of the Old 
Testament, (Isa. xl, 10, 11; Mai. iii,) blended to- 
gether. The Baptist sees the coming of Christ in 
its whole perspective development. The process of 
sifting to be completed by the second coming of 
Christ, has indeed commenced already with his first 
coming. Judgment and redemption, which our nar- 
row dogmatics have too far put asunder, are, in the 
Scripture sense, correlate ideas. Coupled with the 
highest grace is always the highest punishment, 
which God inflicts upon the despisers of his prof- 
fered mercy. — And the ax is laid, etc. In order 
to enforce his exhortation, he reminds them that 
they had no time left to put off their repentance, 
God's long-suffering with the Jewish people being 
almost exhausted. If they would continue — accord- 
ing to Luke the words were addressed to both the 
people and Pharisees — in their present state of im- 
penitence, in utter disregard of God's extraordinary 
dealings with them, and reject the Messiah, the Di- 
vine judgments hanging over their heads would be 
executed at once; and in order to set this the more 
clearly before them, he compares them to a tree 
doomed to be cut down, unto whose roots the ax is 
already laid. By this ax Dr. A. Clarke understands 
the Bomans. As early as 63 B. C. this ax was laid 
to the Jewish polity; Pompey then took Jerusalem, 
and made Judea a Roman province; yet the country 
might still be considered as being in the hands of 
the Jews, although it was tributary to the Romans. 
About forty years after this warning of John the ax 
did its work; the tree, of wLich, by earlier judg- 
ments, only some branches had been cut off, was 
now really cut down; with the destruction of the 
Temple and the city the Jewish polity and Church 
ceased to exist. But this judgment was, at the same 
time, the type of the coming wrath of God, which 
will on the great day of retribution be poured out 
upon all that have not become obedient to the Gos- 
pel of Jesus Christ during the dispensation of grace. 
— He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost 
and with fire — literally in (iv) the Holy Ghost and 
fire. The Baptists appeal to this in proof that 
baptizing ought to be rendered by immersing here. 
But the meaning of the Greek preposition kv is not 
restricted to locality; and if ftairrl^uv meant immer- 



sion here, the preposition ug would have been used 
for kv ; at all events, kv proves nothing for immer- 
sion, because Luke (iii, 16) uses no preposition at 
all, but the dative instrumenti, Man,, which can be 
rendered only "with water." Moreover, the baptism 
of the Holy Ghost is described, not as immersing, 
but as Jailing on, pouring out, descending, and 
sending down, (Acts ii, 16-18, 32, 33; x, 44-46; xi, 
15, 16; 1 Pet. i, 13; John i, 32.) The verb paitri- 
(siv, when used in the New Testament of a religious 
act, means to wash or cleanse with water, without 
determining whether this is done by sprinkling, pour- 
ing, or immersing. (A full and elaborate examina- 
tion of the meaning of fianr'L^eiv the reader will find 
in our comment on Matthew xxviii, 19.) Water 
baptism, or the cleansing by water, merely symbol- 
izes the internal and real cleansing by the Holy 
Ghost. — And with fire. These words are gener- 
ally understood as referring to the manner in which 
the Holy Ghost came down upon the apostles on the 
day of Pentecost; but the application of the term 
"fire" to this event is not warranted. Most com- 
mentators consider fire as a symbol of the purifying 
power of the Holy Ghost, as if John meant to say, 
"As water cleanses metal only from without, but fire 
purges it from within, removing all impurities, so my 
baptism can only symbolize and urge a change of 
heart, but the heart-renewing power can be commu- 
nicated only by the power of the Holy Ghost." But 
although the Holy Ghost may fitly be compared to 
fire, yet it would seem that John understood here 
by fire something else ; namely, the consuming fire 
of Divine judgments, in which sense the word is 
evidently used in the following verse. If he had 
intended to use the term "fire" merely as the an- 
tithesis of water, and as the symbol of the Holy 
Ghost, he would have said, "He shall baptize you 
with fire and the Holy Ghost." It is worthy of spe- 
cial notice, that Mark and John, who, in relating the 
Baptist's words, do not mention the Divine judg- 
ments announced by him, omit, also, the words 
"with fire;" in the same way, our Lord, (Acts i, 5; 
comp. Acts xi, 15, 16.) The objection, that we are 
not authorized to understand by "you" two classes of 
persons, penitent and impenitent, is not of sufficient 
importance. Moreover, by referring the "fire" to 
the consuming fire of the Divine judgments, its ap- 
plication to those that are baptized with the Holy 
Ghost is not fully excluded. The two views have 
the consuming property of fire in common. Where 
the fire of the Holy Ghost consumes the impurities 
of the heart, there is a judgment that is painfully felt; 
and hence would follow another contrast between 
water and fire baptism; namely, this, that hypocrites 
may submit to water baptism, because it does not 
necessarily include, like baptism by the Spirit, the 
painful death of the old man. 

Verse 12. We have shown, already, that this 
verse refers primarily to the sifting process to which 
the theocracy was to be subjected. Lange thinks 



218 



MATTHEW III, 13-17. 



that by the chaff must be understood both the tem- 
porary forms of the Old Testament economy which 
had been serviceable to the growth of the wheat, and 
its members, who, by mistaking the outward forms 
for the substance of religion, had become worthless 
chaff themselves. As Christ sifted, at his first com- 
ing, the Jewish Church on earth, so he shall sift his 
visible Church at his second coming. It is worthy 
of notice, that the Baptist, as well as Christ and his 
apostles, represent the punishment of those that are 
thrust out of the communion of God's people, after 
the time of grace, as being of endless duration. 
(John xv, 6; 2 Thess. i, 9.) — "To what amounts 
it," says Dr. Whedon, "that the fire is unquenchable, 
if the sinner may be snatched from it at any mo- 
ment? what cares he for the phantasm of a hell for- 
ever empty, though forever burning? Moreover, 
what sense in supposing a hell forever preserved 
flaming, yet forever void? But, in fact, hell is the 
penal condition of the condemned sinner, and the 
fire the penal essence itself; hell has no existence 
save as a penalty for guilt. Terminate the penalty, 
and the fire has gone out." 



HOMILETIC SUGGESTIONS. 
Like John the Baptist, the preacher of the Gospel 
ought, 1. To remind men of their sins, and convince 
them of the absolute necessity of a chaDge of heart, 



showing its genuineness by fruits meet for repent- 
ance. For by nature we are all blind and dead, and 
but too prone to take the outside for the substance 
of religion. John insists upon fruit, not upon 
leaves. The only safe criterion of genuine repent- 
ance is a change of heart and conduct. Spurious 
repentance consists in mere wishes, sighs, resolves, 
regrets, or outward exercises. 

2. To direct every man to the Lord Jesus Christ, 
as him in whose blood alone we can find the forgive- 
ness of sins, and who will come to judge the world. 

3. To teach plainly and distinctly, that man, in 
order to be saved, must be a partaker of the Holy 
Ghost. We need not only what Christ has done for 
us, but also the work of the Holy Ghost in us, not 
only a claim upon heaven through the merits of 
Christ, but we must also be made meet for the inher- 
itance of the saints through the Holy Ghost. May, 
therefore, no one rest satisfied with water baptism 
alone, but strive to receive also the baptism' of the 
Spirit ! 

4. To warn the impenitent of the imminent dan- 
ger, to which they are exposed, of falling under the 
wrath of God, and to be condemned to everlasting 
fire. While humbly adoring God's long-suffering 
and mercy, we must not lose sight of his punitive 
justice, and constantly bear in mind, that there is 
not only a heaven, but also a hell. 

5. To comfort the believers by pointing them to 
the garner into which Christ will gather all his elect. 



§6. THE BAPTISM OF JESUS. 

From the record of Mark i, 9, it would seem that Jesus staid at Nazareth to the 
moment of his entry upon his puhlic ministry. But when his hour had come, which he 
recognized in the light of the Spirit with infallible certainty, he came, when about thirty 
years of age, as Luke tells us, to John at the Jordan, in order to be introduced by this 
herald of God into his Messianic office. The adverb "then" (tots) which introduces this 
section does not imply that Jesus came to the river at the close of the preceding dis- 
course, but it merely means that Jesus came while John was still preaching at the 
Jordan. From the manner in which the Baptist speaks (John i, 32) of the heavenly 
witness at the baptism of Jesus, and from a close examination of verse 16, where it is 
said, "The heavens were opened unto him," and again, "He saw," etc., we may infer 
that the opening of the heavens, the descent of the Spirit, and the voice of the Father 
did not take place before the assembled multitude, but that these heavenly manifesta- 
tions came within the perception of Jesus and John alone. From this it would follow 
that Jesus was not baptized before the assembled multitude, which seems most probable 
to us ; or, if this was the case, the multitude may, indeed, have had some perception 
of a miraculous transaction, they may have seen and heard, as the companions of St. 
Paul, (Acts ix, 7,) or as the multitude when the voice came from heaven, (John xii, 29,) 
something strange and inexplicable, without understanding, however, the whole phe- 
nomenon. 

Additional light will be shed upon this solemn transaction by considering the object 
of the baptism of Jesus and of the consequent witness from heaven. Both were destined 



THE BAPTISM OF JESUS. 



219 



for John and for Jesus himself. John was to receive, through the baptism of Jesus, and 
especially through the coming down upon him of the Holy Ghost, the infallible assur- 
ance that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah. The Baptist declares this ex- 
pressly when he says, (John i, 31 :) " That he [Christ] should be made manifest to Israel, 
therefore am I come baptizing you with water;" and, verse 33: "I knew him not; but 
He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt 
see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with 
the Holy Ghost." But this baptism was also proper for Jesus as the Son of man. It 
was for his own self-consciousness, as it was for that of John, the ordination for the 
Messianic office. See more on this point in the exegetical notes. "As Jesus," says 
Neander, "followed, in his public ministry, always the Divine call addressed to him 
through surrounding circumstances, through the preparative course of historic develop- 
ment, so he did also at the opening of his ministry. For his outward calling and solemn 
introduction into office he looked to him who, as the last of the Old Testament prophets, 
was to appear in order to form the point of transition from the Old Testament to the 
Messianic dispensation. His baptism by John was the symbol of the preparatory con- 
secration for the establishing of the kingdom of God. But this general idea could apply 
in a twofold manner ; that is, with regard to those that desired to become members 
of this kingdom and with reference to Him that was to become the founder and ruler 
of this kingdom. If in the case of the former a confession of their sins took place, and 
their baptism had a close relation to repentance, all this was, as a matter of course, 
excluded in the case of Him who was revealed to John, in the very moment of his 
baptism, as the Messiah, as the Bedeemer from sin." 

"Verses 13— IT. (Compare Mark i, 9-11; Luke hi, 21, 22; John i, 31-33.) 

(13) The^ cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of 
him. (14) But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and 
comest thou to me? (15) And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so 
now : for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 
(16) And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: 
and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descend- 
ing like a dove, and lighting upon him: (17) and lo a voice from heaven, saying, 
This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 



Verse 13. To be baptized of him. As to the 
object and significance of the baptism of Jesus see 
the introductory remarks. 

Verse 14. But John forbade him. This state- 
ment of Matthew, according to which John knew 
Jesus even before his baptism, is perfectly consist- 
ent with the Baptist's declaration, (John i, 33:) "I 
knew him not; but He that sent me to baptize with 
water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou 
shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on 
him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy 
Ghost." It is, indeed, in the highest degree prob- 
able that John knew Jesus personally before the 
latter came to be baptized. But this personal ac- 
quaintance and what John might have heard from 
his mother about the extraordinary circumstances 
that had taken place before and after the birth of 
Jesus, would not have justified John in introducing 



Jesus to the people solemnly as the Messiah. For 
before John had received, in the descent of the Holy 
Ghost on Jesus, the promised infallible assurance 
that Jesus was the Messiah, he was not authorized 
to bear witness of him as the Messiah, and in this 
sense John said: "I knew him not.'' Other expos- 
itors, Watson, e. g., and Ebrard, however, think 
that, by a special interposition of Providence, John 
and Jesus did not know each other prior to the lat- 
ter's baptism, lest there might be any room for sus- 
picion that there had been a collusion between 
them. But as soon as John saw Jesus he received 
the positive witness of the Spirit, with which he was 
filled from his mother's womb, that this was the 
Messiah. The promised outward sign came to this, 
to seal the inward revelation. They say that it was 
quite natural that, on subsequent occasions, when 
John pointed out Jesus to his disciples as the Mes- 



220 



MATTHEW III, 13-17. 



siah, lie did not appeal to his inward assurance, 
which he received at the first sight of Jesus, but to 
the outward sign. 

Verse 15. Suffer it to be so now. The Lord 
does not contradict what John says about his per- 
son, but directs him as his inferior, to submit, for 
the time being, to the Divine arrangement, even 
without understanding it. Jesus refers John, the 
servant of the law, to the Divine commandment to 
baptize all Israelites that desired to enter into the 
Messianic kingdom. In what sense and for what 
purpose this baptism was to be administered to him 
also, who knew no sin, was set forth by the following 
sign from heaven. — ■ For thus it becomes xrs to 
fulfill all righteousness. This confession of 
righteousness forms a lofty contrast to the confes- 
sion of sin by all others that came to be baptized. 
(Verse 6.) To fulfill all righteousness means, "To 
observe to do all the commandments of God, as he 
has commanded us." (Deut. vi, 25.) This no one 
in Israel could say of himself, and for this reason 
John preached, at the close of the dispensation of 
the law, the baptism of repentance for the remission 
of sins. But he that applies now for baptism is no 
sinner, but the Righteous One, that is not in need 
of either repentance or forgiveness. Born of a 
woman, and put under the law which is given for 
sinners, he had already, up to this time, observed 
to do all the commandments of Jehovah, given to 
Israel. Although born without the foreskin of the 
heart, yet he had received circumcision. Although 
he was himself the sacrifice for the sins of the 
world, yet a sacrifice was brought for him as the 
first-born ; although the real Paschal Lamb, he is to 
keep the Passover. Fulfilling all the ordinances pre- 
scribed by the law, he submits also to the divinely- 
ordained baptism, as the last commandment of the 
old dispensation, by which it passes over into the 
New. It became him, who knew no sin, to present 
himself with sinners for baptism, because he was to 
take upon himself their sins. Jesus fulfilled all 
righteousness by being introduced into his Messianic 
office by baptism. John, by baptizing Jesus, ful- 
filled also all righteousness; for by baptizing him he 
did what was part of his office. 

Verse 16. And Jesus, when he was baptized. 
Literally, having been baptized. — Went up straight- 
way ' out of the water. These words are also 
quoted in proof that paitTi&iv means immersion. 
But the Greek preposition awo, here rendered "out 
of," means from, away from, rather than out of 
as in Matt, xxvii, 40, down from the cross, not out 
of the cross; or in ' Luke ix, 37, down from the 
mountain, not out of the mountain. If the Evan- 
gelist had wished to convey the idea that Jesus was 
immersed, he would, in all probability, have used the 
preposition ek for and. After having been baptized, 
Jesus went up from the bed of the river, in which 
he had been standing, whether the baptism was ad- 
ministered to him by immersion or affusion, and 



then the heavenly vision took place. — And, lo, the 
heavens were opened unto him. The opening of 
the heavens we must understand, as Acts vii, 55, as 
a visible manifestation of the glory of the Lord, 
(Shekinah.) In its outward appearance it may not 
have been unlike the dividing of the clouds at the 
flash of lightning. — Like a dove. Luke says : 
"And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape, 
like a dove, upon him." It was, consequently, not a 
real dove that came down from the opened heavens 
and alighted upon Jesus. As God appeared in the 
Old Testament at times in human form, at times in 
fire and smoke, so the Holy Ghost made himself 
here visible in the shape of a dove. On the apostles 
the Holy Ghost descended in the shape of cloven 
tongues, like as of fire, indicating, thereby, that he 
would illuminate and purify them; but in the case 
of Christ, who stood in need of neither illumination 
nor purification, he came down in the shape of a 
dove, the symbol of purity and innocence. The 
dove belonged to those animals which God had de- 
clared clean in the Old Testament, and was consid- 
ered a holy bird by many nations of antiquity. 
Christ himself uses it (Matt, x, 16) as the symbol 
of purity and gentleness. ■ — The question whether 
the transaction in question was a vision, as many 
of the early Fathers and some modern commenta- 
tors, as Neander and Bleek, etc.,. have maintained, 
or a real transaction, as those who dissent from this 
view call it, can in this form not be answered. It 
was a vision, but a vision of objective reality. Man, 
however, in his natural state has no organs of per- 
ceiving, or coming into contact with, such outward 
manifestations of the Deity. For this end his inter- 
nal sense must be quickened; in other words, he 
must enter into an ecstatic state in order to perceive 
such Divine manifestations. Man, in his natural 
state, does either not perceive any thing at all, or 
he hears a meaningless sound and sees a shapeless 
sight; so the companions of Paul on his way to 
Damascus: they heard the voice, but understood it 
not; they saw the light, but not Christ in the light. 
So the multitude, when a voice spoke to Jesus from 
heaven; they said: "It thundered;" others: "An 
angel spake with him;" evidently not understanding 
the meaning of the heavenly voice. (John xii, 29.) 
— And lighting upon him. Jesus, the incarnate 
Logos, did not receive the Holy Ghost as other men 
do. He descended upon him to indicate his official 
relation to Jesus — to testify that Jesus was the Son 
of God. In a similar manner did the Holy Ghost 
enter, on the day of Pentecost, into a new relation 
to the apostles, upon whom the Savior had breathed 
the Holy Spirit before his ascension. Neander re- 
marks : " As the Holy Ghost is represented as soar- 
ing over him in the shape of a dove, and remaining 
to the end of the vision, the idea that he came now 
for the first time upon Jesus is altogether precluded, 
and a higher union of the divine and the human 
in Jesus, dating from the very beginning, and not 



THE BAPTISM OP JESUS. 



221 






commencing now, is evidently presupposed." Gess 
takes a somewhat different view. He says : " For 
what purpose did Jesus need the outpouring of 
the Spirit, seeing he carried in himself the fullness 
of Divine life? To say that the Holy Ghost was 
poured out upon the human nature of Jesus does 
not explain the matter; for it is evident that the 
Divine fullness of the Logos might have commu- 
nicated itself to the human soul of Jesus. What 
end, therefore, answered the baptism of the Holy 
Ghost coming down from heaven ? Without ad- 
mitting the full force of the Scripture doctrine, 
that the Logos divested himself, at his incarnation, 
of his fullness of life, we can not understand this 
fact in the development of our Lord's life. Jesus 
sustained, indeed, an uninterrupted intercourse with 
the Father, and his whole life, before and after his 
baptism, was an uninterrupted receiving of the Holy 
Ghost. He had recognized himself as the Son of 
God and as the Messiah before his baptism. But he 
needed, in addition to his inward conviction, a Di- 
vine seal of his Messiahship, coming from without, 
similar to the one he received afterward, shortly be- 
fore he set out on his last journey to Jerusalem, on 
the mount of transfiguration, and again after his 
entry into Jerusalem. As soon as we fully realize 
the true humanity of Christ, we must conceive of 
Christ's career as a career of faith, and we shall 
understand how appropriate such tokens of Divine 
favor were to the incarnate Logos." Gess further 
thinks that it was the spirit of official wisdom and 
power of performing miracles with which Jesus was 
endowed at his baptism. 

Verse 17. For "this is" Mark and Luke say, 
" Thou art." Matthew gives either only the sense 
of the Divine voice, and Mark and Luke the very 
words — the verba ipsissima — that were addressed to 
Jesus, or the voice addressed itself first to Jesus, 
then to John. If the words of the Father, like those 
of the Son, (Acts xxvi, 14,) were not spoken in 
Greek, but in Hebrew, the expression is elliptical — 
that is, without the copula "thou art" or "he is" — 
and one or the other can be supplied. The slight va- 
riation of the Evangelists, however, in reporting the 
words used on this occasion — as also in many other 
passages — is fully justified by the universally-admit- 
ted principle "that one witness may report the sub- 
stance and another the exact form, without any in- 
consistency or violation of the truth." ■ — • From the 
silence of John concerning the heavenly voice, in 
his testimony of Jesus, (John i, 32-34,) Strauss finds 
another proof that John differs from the Synoptics. 
But this argument e silentio has no force whatever, 
as no one will contend that the Baptist was obliged, 
whenever he appealed to any fact, to mention in de- 
tail all the attending circumstances. It is sufficient 
that, according to the Gospel of John, the Baptist 
testifies that Jesus is the Son of God, and this test- 
imony was necessarily based on the voice from 
heaven which declared him to be the Son of God. — 



This is my beloved Son. Literally, this is my Son, 
the beloved one ; that is, as the only-begotten Son, 
loved by me in a higher sense than all others that 
are for his sake adopted and beloved. (John xvii, 
24, 26; Eph. i, 6; Col. i, 13.) God loves, in reality, 
only the only-begotten Son of his love, as the orig- 
inal has it, (Col. i, 13,) with all his eternal, infinite, 
and immeasurable love, and whomsoever else he 
loves, he loves only through him and for his sake, 
only with reference to the beloved one, only in pro- 
portion as he is beloved by the Son. — Ix whom I 
am well pleased. On this passage Dr. Alexander 
has the following excellent note: " I am well pleased 
is in Greek a single word, the aorist of a verb used 
sometimes to express volition, and then construed 
with a following infinitive, but sometimes perfect 
satisfaction or complacency, the object of which is 
then denoted by a noun or pronoun following. Ac- 
cording to the theory and usage of the Greek verb, 
both in the classics and in Scripture, the aorist (eb<56- 
Kriaa) is to be confounded neither with the present, 
/ am (now) well pleased, nor with the perfect, 1 
have (ever) been well pleased, but has respect to a 
specific point of time, I teas (once) well pleased. 
Although the deviations from this strict rule are 
sufficient to authorize a liberal construction when 
required by exegetical necessity, the latter is pre- 
cluded in the case before us by the obvious allusion 
to the Son's assumption of the Mediatorial office, 
which is here presented as the ground or reason of 
the Father's infinite complacency or approbation, as 
distinguished from what may be called, for want of 
any better term, the natural affection or intense love 
which enters into our conception of the mutual rela- 
tion of paternity and sonship. There is therefore 
no tautology in these two clauses ; but the first de- 
scribes our Lord as the beloved Son of God from all 
eternity, the second as the object of his infinite 
complacency and approbation as the Son of man, 
the Mediator, the Messiah. In this voluntarily-as- 
sumed or adopted character, the Son of God was 
recognized and set forth at his baptism. This sub- 
lime and solemn recognition of our Lord in his offi- 
cial character involves a striking exhibition of the 
threefold personality in the Divine essence, the Fa- 
ther audibly addressing and the Spirit visibly de- 
scending on the incarnate Son, as he assumes his 
Messianic office." 



HOMILETIC SUGGESTIONS. 

Jesus now appears in public for the first time. 
Stupendous issues depend upon that mission, into 
which he is now publicly inaugurated by that bap- 
tism which he receives at the hand of John. Now, 
although the mission of Jesus was sui generis, every 
man has as truly a mission as he had. There is not 
one possessing a rational nature who has not some 
portion of Divine work, which he is both fitted and 



222 



MATTHEW IV, 1-11. 



required to do. Upon the right fulfillment of our in- 
dividual missions depend our true greatness and well- 
being, as well as our utility to the universe and our 
acceptance with God. Now, there are two things 
which Christ possessed at his inauguration, as here 
recorded, which every man must have if he would 
rightly " fulfill his course "■ — a spirit of self-renuncia- 
tion and a special connection loith the Spirit of God. 

I. A spirit of self-renunciation. When Jesus 
made application for baptism, John, conscious of 
his personal inferiority, modestly "forbade him, say- 
ing, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest 
thou to me?" To this Jesus replied, "Suffer it to 
be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all right- 
eousness;" as if he had said, Baptism is a Divine in- 
stitution; and, although it is a ritual enactment, and 
not a moral principle, as it is not yet abrogated, and 
as I am "made under the law," it is binding on me. 
Whatever is duty, positive or moral— however appar- 
ently trivial or momentous — I shall obey. This is 
the spirit of duty — the spirit that now penetrated 
Christ in entering on his public mission, and which 
was the inspiration of his life and the soul of his 
history. And, my friend, wouldst thou be initiated 
into the grand business and blessedness of being? 
Wouldst thou start rightly on the course of an in- 
terminable existence? Wouldst thou be divinely in- 
augurated into the high offices of God's spiritual 
universe ? If so, thou must have that spirit which 
Jesus expressed to John on the banks of the Jordan, 
when he said: "It becometh us to fulfill all 

RIGHTEOUSNESS." 

II. A special connection with, the Spirit of God. 
There are three things in this wonderful scene which 
indicated Christ's special connection with God at this 
time. First, the vision of the opening heavens : " Lo ! 
the heavens were opened unto him." An impressive 
expression this of the fact mankind have ever over- 
looked; namely, that behind the vail of matter there 
is a spiritual universe which is deeply interested in 
the doings and destinies of a holy man. How would 
this vision strengthen the heart of Christ for the stu- 
pendous mission he had undertaken! He would 
feel, as his trials multiplied, and the nation grew in 



wrath against him, that up those heavens — where 
the vulgar could discern nothing but the quiet seas 
of blue, the swimming clouds, and the twinkling 
lights of night — there were spirits bent in earnest 
affection over him, and ready at any moment to 
throw open their glorious pavilion, and welcome 
him to their home. Secondly. The visit of the holy 
dove. In the symbolization of the Bible, certain 
animals — such as the lamb, the lion, the eagle, the 
bull — are frequently employed as the representatives 
of character. In this hieroglyphical system the dove 
is the emblem of purity; and its descending and 
abiding upon Christ now, indicated that he was the 
temple of the Spirit of holiness. This Spirit with 
Christ was not a transient visitant, as in the case of 
Saul, Samson, and others, but a permanent resident. 
The "dove abode" on Christ. Thirdly. The voice 
of the everlasting Father, " This is my beloved Son, 
in whom I am well pleased." ■ This approving voice 
was the greatest blessing of all. Now, all these 
things, indicating a special connection with God, are 
as necessary for every man who would happily real- 
ize the great purpose of being, as they were for 
Christ, Yes ; every man must have such a Divine vi- 
sion, visitant, and voice; the heavens must open; 
the thick vail of matter must be drawn aside; the 
sensuous firmament of the heart must be rent asun- 
der, and a deep and imperishable impression of a 
spiritual universe must be made upon the heart, and 
the whole man must be brought under the powers 
of the world to come. The heavenly dove must de- 
scend as the spirit of purity, not to pay a transient 
visit and wing its way again, but as a permanent 
resident, consecrating the entire nature as its ever- 
lasting temple ; and the approving voice of Heaven 
must verberate in the depths of conscience, that we 
may go forth, not with "doubts and fears," but with 
a cheerful spirit and courageous heart. " 0, that 
thou wouldst rend the heavens!" — unvail to us the 
spiritual world; "that thou wouldst come down" — 
descend on us as the permanent visitant of purity, 
and as a voice, " bearing witness with our spirits 
that we are the children of God I" (Abridged from 
"The Homilist") 



OHAPTEE IT. 



§7. THE TEMPTATION OF OUR LORD IN THE WILDERNESS. 

Rationalistic commentators regard the temptation of our Lord, recorded by three 
Evangelists, not as an actual occurrence, but either as a parable, in which Jesus intended 
to teach his disciples certain principles of his kingdom and certain fundamental maxims 
to guide them in their mission, or as a my thus, a tradition, which arose from the inten- 
tion of glorifying Christ as the conqueror of evil. It is not necessary to say any thing 
on the mythical interpretation, after the elaborate discussion to which the whole theory 



THE TEMPTATION OF OUR LORD IN THE WILDERNESS. 223 

in all its aspects has been subjected in our General Introduction. The view which 
regards the narrative as a parable has been given up, even by those who had sup- 
ported it. The entire character of the narrative, and especially the position it occupies 
between the baptism and public appearance of Jesus, show clearly that the Evangelists 
meant to narrate a matter of fact, and not a parable. Or can we suppose that the 
apostles misunderstood their Master on this subject, taking that to be actual history 
which he meant to be a parable? This would imply a stigma upon the teaching of Jesus 
himself, as if he had presented the matter to them in a very unintelligible way ; and 
Matthew was certaiuly well skilled in distinguishing parables from narratives. When 
Jesus spoke in parables the fact is always expressly stated by the Evangelist. Besides, 
as a parable, this account would have an unusual aspect, such as no where else occurs. 
Finally, when we reflect that it was involved in the human nature of Christ that he 
should be tempted, that the New Testament throughout knows nothing at all of a Savior 
who was not actually tempted, and that it lay in the nature of the case, that that which 
could be a temptation to him should present itself with special force at the commence- 
ment of his career, we are constrained to regard the account as the record of an actual 
fact in the life of Jesus. 

But even those who believe that Jesus was actually subjected to temptation, differ 
widely in their explanations of the mysterious transaction. The chief ground of these 
different and more or less forced explanations, is the personal appearance of Satan as 
the tempter of Jesus. It is argued that the bodily appearance of the devil is never else- 
where hinted at in the New Testament, and that the personal appearance of the devil, 
even if disguised in a human form — to which the text makes no allusion whatever — must 
at once have taken from the temptation all its force; for the Son of God must have rec- 
ognized him at a glance, and in order that evil may tempt at all it must take the alluring 
form of that which is good, and pleasant, and beneficial. 

Some have supposed that the temptations presented themselves to the Lord in a state 
of ecstasy, or in a dream. But would the Lord have imparted to the Evangelists a mere 
vision or dream in the form of a historical narrative? Would a temptation experienced 
in an ecstasy be a real temptation? And how unworthy is the conception that the sec- 
ond Adam should have resisted the temptations of Satan only in a vision or dream, not 
in a wakeful, conscious, and responsible condition ! 

More plausible is the interpretation which represents the event as a mental experi- 
ence, undergone in a state of perfect self-consciousness. According to this view, Satan is 
made to represent the false and carnal idea of the Messiah which was prevalent in the 
world around him, but which his pure spirit repulsed with perfect decision and without 
hesitation. This false idea of the Messiah, it is said, originated with Satan, and must 
have presented itself to Jesus when he was on the point of coming forward as the Mes- 
siah. Since, to his mind, the precise end for which the Father had sent him into the 
world stood clearly defined, so, with equal clearness, must he have taken cognizance of 
that which stood opposed to this his mission. This inward experience Jesus is supposed 
to have afterward communicated to the disciples in the more intelligible form of an out- 
ward temptation, in which he holds up to their view the process of thought through 
which he passed. In support of this view there may be quoted Scriptural representa- 
tions of a similar symbolical character; yet it is unworthy of our acceptance. The 
temptation is thus made either a real conflict in the soul of Jesus, which is inconsistent 
with his purity, or a merely-theoretical choice between a false and a true conception of 
Messiah, which would deprive the temptation of all force and significance. Besides, this 
interpretation does too much violence to the text. The Evangelists speak evidently of a 
personal tempter acting upon Jesus from without, in order to seduce him from the way of 
truth, and, more particularly, from that way which, as Messiah, he was called to walk in. 
Some who acknowledge this, but who, at the same time, wish to get rid of the idea of 



224 MATTHEW IV, 1-11. 



the tempter having been the devil, substitute for him some human tempter, whether an 
individual or a body of men, and have imagined that it was by a priest or a Pharisee, or 
by a deputation from the Sanhedrim, that the seductive propositions were made to Jesus. 
But, to say nothing of the lack of all evidence for such a supposition, it is precluded by 
the words of the text. Occurring without the article, the word Sidftpfoz might mean a 
tempter generally, human or other; but with the article it can only be understood of the 
chief of evil spirits; and the same is true of r.sipd^wv with the article. Besides, in the 
mouth of a man these temptations would be curious, strange, inadmissible, especially 
the demand to be worshiped, and the promise of dominion conjoined therewith. 

Accordingly, nothing remains to us but to understand the tempter to be Satan, as the 
Evangelists represent. Yet, even with this conclusion, we have an alternative presented 
to us. The one is to assume an outward, embodied appearance of Satan standing before 
Christ, This is defended by Ebrard, who says: " It pertains to the dignity of Jesus that 
the prince of this world should appear to him without a mask, neither as a deceptive 
juggler, nor as a specter, nor as an angel of light, but in the shape of the fallen angel- 
prince. How this shape was constituted I know not, and it were foolish to desire to 
know. Only this much is certain: 1. That it was no goat-footed caricature of a beast, 
derived from Germanic heathenism, but a shape analogous to the body of man, since 
all angels have appeared to men in a shape analogous to the human ; and, 2. That all 
the seductiveness of Belial, as well as all the terribleness of the malignity of Satan — the 
former enticing, the latter threatening in case of the failure of the enticement — was 
manifested in his appearance before Christ. The idea of Jesus being bodily in the 
power of Satan has been considered inadmissible; but it is no more so than that, at a 
later period, he should be, by voluntary submission, in the power of the children of 
Belial. The Spirit of his Father drove him into the wilderness, in order to endure the 
temptation. In being tempted he was entirely passive, but so much the more active in 
refusing to be led astray." 

The other alternative is to recognize Satan in the tempting personality, without 
admitting his outward visible appearance. Since the prince of darkness is a spirit, 
the opinion that his assault upon Jesus was of a purely-spiritual nature is not contra- 
dictory to the text, and is, on the whole, the most probable. Christ was tempted in all 
points like as we are. But to us Satan does not appear in bodily form, but tempts us 
through the suggestion of evil thoughts. The objection that if the temptation had taken 
place only in the mind of Jesus, it would be difficult to distinguish it from one arising 
out of his own heart and mind, has no weight at all; for if we consider the words of the 
temptation as thoughts thrust in by Satan, the temptation comes upon Jesus from with- 
out as really, and leaves Jesus as much unstained, as if Satan in corporeal presence had 
spoken the words. The only weighty objection to this interpretation appears to lie in 
the words, "Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a 
pinnacle of the Temple," (v. 5,) and " The devil taketh him up into an exceeding high 
mountain," (v. 8.) But Dr. Stearns, in an article in the Bibliotheca Sacra, has very 
ingeniously removed this difficulty without putting a forced construction upon these 
words. His argument is as follows. With reference to the first suggestion of Satan to 
change the stones to bread, the Redeemer, in a moment, recognized it as a temptation, 
and repulsed it instantaneously, because such an act would have manifested distrust in 
God, who had supported him during the forty days' fast, as well as impatience under 
afflictions which he should endure till his Father should be pleased to release him. In 
the second temptation we have to distinguish between the going to Jerusalem and the 
ascending of the pinnacle of the Temple, on the one hand, and the challenge to throw 
himself down, on the other hand. The former, as well as the latter, appears to have 
been a suggestion of Satan; for it is said: " The devil taketh him." But the first part of 
the suggestion had nothing wrong in itself, and the Redeemer might not have recognized 



THE TEMPTATION OP OUR LORD IN THE WILDERNESS. 225 

it as coming from the tempter. Many good reasons might have inclined Jesus to go to 
Jerusalem, and to ascend the pinnacle of the Temple. These reasons, though suggested 
to him from without, he might, as man, not have recognized as the suggestions of the 
invisible tempter, but followed them innocently. So soon, however, as the thought to 
throw himself down, in order to astonish the multitude by a miracle, and to rely, in 
doing it, on the promise of the Scriptures — so soon as this thought presented itself, the 
Redeemer discerned instantly that this proposal, involving the greatest presumption, 
came from the devil, and it was at once rejected. So, in the third temptation, it could 
not be sinful to ascend a mountain in order to view the surrounding countries. It is 
evident that what Luke says of the devil "showing Jesus all the kingdoms of the world 
in a moment of time," can not be taken literally. It must, then, have been through a 
working of Satan upon the imagination of Jesus. That Satan was permitted to hold 
before the soul of Jesus a picture of fancy, those also must admit who maintain a visible 
appearance of Satan ; for there is no mountain from which all the kingdoms of the world 
can be seen. To suppose that Satan held up a picture to the imagination of Jesus, is 
totally different from the attempt to resolve the whole narrative into a vision. By 
beholding this picture the soul of Jesus was not defiled, nor does the temptation thereby 
lose any of its force. So soon, however, as the proposal came to receive all the kingdoms 
as a gift at the hands of Satan, the Savior hesitated not a moment to repel the ignomin- 
ious and blasphemous proffer with the words: "Get thee hence, Satan." 

If none of all the explanations given is entirely satisfactory, we must not forget that 
we have here to do with a subject which must remain shrouded in mystery. This much, 
however, is plain, that whoever admits what the Scriptures teach us of the existence of 
the devil and of his influence over men, will find no difficulty to believe that he actually 
tempted our Lord. How Satan approached the Savior, vjhat was the status of the tempter, 
is not revealed to us. 

There are, however, other questions of too much importance to be passed unanswered. 
The temptation of our Lord forms an important part in the plan of our redemption, but 
belongs, at the same time, to the most difficult problems of theology. We are first met 
by the question, whether we must not ascribe to Christ an impossibility of yielding to tempta- 
tion, and, if so, whether the temptation could have had any reality for the Son of God. The 
answer generally given to this question is, that it was the human soul of Christ, in itself 
and apart from its union with the Divine Logos, that was tempted, and might have 
sinned; but that through this union sin became impossible. But such a separation of 
humanity from Divinity, in the person of Christ, is inadmissible. The fact stated in 
the Gospel records is, that the Word made flesh — that is, the Son of God as man — not a 
mere man — was tempted; and the full, practical import of this temptation lies in this 
very point, that the eternal Son of God entered into our very condition, and was tempted 
in all points like as we are, not only to succor us out of his own experience, but to show 
us that sin is no part of human nature in its original state; that God required of the first 
Adam no more than he — the second Adam — was willing to do and encounter himself. 
It is only from this point of view that we can draw proper encouragement in the imi- 
tation of the example -which our Savior set before us in his temptation. Because he 
manifested Divine virtue under truly-human conditions, our human virtue may become 
divine. While the humanity of Jesus differs from common humanity in this, that he 
presents, in his person, the true and ideal man which is sinless and perfect, we, the fallen 
progeny of the first Adam, are to be conformed to the image of the second Adam, by 
being born again of the Spirit of God. Regarding, then, as we do, the union of Godhead 
with manhood in the one personality of Christ to be such, that in him the Divine 
nature never excludes the human, nor the human the Divine — in other words, that what 
is Divine in Christ is, at the same time, human, and what is human in him is Divine — 
the question how the temptation could have had any reality for the Son of God, presents 

15 



226 MATTHEW IV, 1-11. 



to us a difficult problem. Let us see how the German Christologians solve it. Ebrard 
expresses himself as follows: "Since the Godhead assumed in Jesus the mode of human 
existence, it follows that his holy will assumed the form of choice between possibilities 
presented to his understanding; in other words, the holiness of the God-man must mani- 
fest itself, as a constant choice of what is good. The possibility, therefore, nay, the con- 
stant actuality of temptation, was the necessary result of the incarnation of the Son of 
God. His human holiness consisted not in an absolute inability to sin — non posse pec- 
care — but in a continual, genuinely-human, free decision for good; and therein lay the 
possibility of his being tempted." Ullmannsays: "The plan of redemption ordained of 
God, aforetime prepared for execution through thoiisands of years, and through thou- 
sands more designed to work out its results, could not fail of its end. Yet this must 
have happened, if we suppose that he who was appointed Eedeemer might himself fall 
away from God through sin. In this view it becomes a wholly-inadmissible, yea, mon- 
strous thought, that Jesus could have actually sinned. Thereby the plan of God would 
have been frustrated, and the pure center Of light for the world's history would have 
been extinguished. It ajDpears, indeed, to be a necessity, intrinsic and wrought into the 
moral order of the world, that Jesus should not sin. In him, however, necessity and 
freedom coincide. He could not be otherwise, but, at the same time, he would not be 
otherwise than sinless. With perfect freedom, in submission and self-renunciation, he 
conformed to that higher necessity which was fulfilling itself in his manifestation. Both 
necessity and freedom must be so associated in our conception that neither shall invali- 
date the other. The necessity of a goodness thus perfect is, at the same time, free and 
voluntary; it is not doubtfully choosing and vacillating, but firmly and victoriously 
directed to what is good. But this freedom does not exclude the possibility of evil in 
the abstract. Being human freedom, it does not lose itself in the Divine necessity; there 
is a possibility of evil, but it is only external, abstract, simply cogitable — cine b(o§e Denf* 
forfeit. The possibility of evil exists, but is never realized. Like a mathematical quan- 
tity evolved in calculation, which is not actually used, it is every moment eliminated by 
that which is higher, the consciousness and pure love of the Divine." More concisely 
and clearly does the pious Steudel express himself: "Although the idea of Christ as Ee- 
deemer implies that in him the possibility of sinning was never realized, yet is he the 
sinless one only in so far as it was possible for him to sin. He could not have been the 
Eedeemer if he had sinned, and, as Eedeemer, it is inconceivable that he should have 
sinned; but the idea of a Eedeemer can only be realized by one who, though he might 
have sinned, did not sin. In a word, he is the Eedeemer of men, not as one who had 
not the ability to sin, but as one who, though he had the ability to sin, did not sin." 
Gess, upholding the side of human freedom more strongly than that of Divine necessity, 
says: " How could Jesus be an example to us who, in the course of this earthly life, must 
decide for God's will amid the pressure of the world's temptation, if his will had been 
decided a priori, through an antemundane determination of the Logos, if, therefore, 
his self-determinations within his earthly life were but the natural and necessary work- 
ing of the antemundane determination ? The free disobedience of Adam has brought us 
into the state of sin ; and only the free obedience of the second Adam can place us in 
the state of righteousness. (Eom. v, 19.) The first Adam was not willing to learn obe- 
dience, though he was only a man ; the second, though very God, as well as very man, Avas 
ready to learn obedience even unto death." 

Another theological or philosophical difficulty is urged by the question, whether Jesus 
could be really tempted, and yet remain absolutely sinless. This question is based upon the 
presumption that an incitement to sin — which temptation necessarily implies — presup- 
poses, on the part of the tempted, some affinity to sin. This confounding of temptabil- 
ity with a penchant toward sin is thoroughly refuted by Ullmann. He says: "In order 
to answer this question, we must investigate the idea and nature of temptation. By 



THE TEMPTATION OF OUR LORD IN THE WILDERNESS. 227 

temptation we mean all that which acts on a free personality in such a way as possibly 
to give its life a direction away from the good and toward the evil. That which tempts 
may lie either in the man himself, as the lust of which James speaks — this kind of tempt- 
ation presupposes already a germ of evil within the man himself, and is, of course, not 
predicable of Jesus — or the temptation may be presented from without, in the shape of a 
motive to sinful action. Still, a temptation coming from without must enter the mind 
through the medium of thought, or imagination, or sensual impression. To be tempted, 
then, means to receive an impression which may move to evil. Every being is liable to 
temptation whose nature is, on the one hand, susceptible of good, and, on the other, does 
not necessarily shut out the possibility of evil. God can not be tempted, because the pos- 
sibility of sinning is forbidden by the absolute necessity of his nature. The idea of a God 
who could sin, or who could even be tempted to sin, were an absurdity. God and sin are 
two conceptions which absolutely exclude each other. Irrational creatures can not be 
tempted, because, being incapable of moral good, they are also below temptation. Man 
alone, free to choose, can be tempted; for he may be bent in both directions. Temptation 
begins for him when evil is presented, at some point of his inner or outer life, in such a 
way that he can directly take it up into his own being. But man is exposed in two ways 
to the seductive power of evil. On the one hand, he may be drawn to actual sin by 
enticements, and, on the other hand, he may be turned aside from what is good by 
threatened, as well as by inflicted, suffering. Moreover, temptation assails us at different 
points, in order to gain possession of our will. Hence, we may be tempted as truly 
through thoughts presented to our minds as through outward objects presented to our 
senses, and in each case the temptation may be either a seduction to evil or a preventive 
from good. 

"Where, then, is the point in temptation at which sin begins, or at which tempt- 
ation becomes itself sin? It is there where the evil which is presented to us begins to 
exert a determining influence on the heart — an influence which, extending onward to the 
will, leads it to act in a manner opposed to the Divine order. Then we find that a con* 
flict is awakened in man which is inconceivable without the presence of sin, be it only in 
the least degree. Disorderly desire and inward bias toward evil are themselves the be- 
ginning of sin; and if such desire had its root and source in our own inner being, it pre- 
supposes the ground of our life to be already corrupt. At this stage it is sin itself that 
entices to sin : sin as a condition leads to sin in act. But temptation does not imply sin 
when the evil, as a thing coming from the world without, merely offers its allurements, 
and is kept at a distance by the indwelling energy of the spirit, or when we are shaken 
by sufferings, whether of the body or soul, and, instead of giving way to ungodly states 
i of feeling and tendencies of the will, endure patiently, and are sustained by our inner 
moral power. 

" It is thus plain how the Redeemer might be tempted, and yet remain free from the 
least stain of sin. He was tempted in all points ; that is, he was tempted in the only two 
possible ways specified above. On the one hand, allurements were presented which 
might have moved him to actual sin, and, on the other hand, he was beset by sufferings 
which might have turned him aside from the Divine path of duty. But in the face of 
both kinds of temptation, his perfect agreement with the will of God remained pure and 
unimpaired. Temptations of the first order were concentrated in the attack made on 
Jesus by Satan. Temptations of the second order assailed him most severely during the 
struggles of Gethsemane, and when he felt himself forsaken by God on the cross." 

TJllmann proceeds, further, to show the twofold significance of the several temptations 
of our Lord. While he was tried prominently in his character of Messiah, he was also 
assailed as a man. His temptation had, therefore, a general human, as well as a special 
Messianic character. The thorough analysis of these points by the distinguished theo- 
logian to whom we are indebted for the greater part of these introductory remarks, we 



228 MATTHEW rv, 1-11. 



shall give in the exegetical notes on verses 3-10. The prominently-Christological sig- 
nificance of the temptation is elegantly set forth by Dr. Krumrsaeher in a sermon, of 
which we will quote the main points, though we have to dissent from some of them, as 
the reader will see in the notes : 

" Compare the situation of our Lord with that of our first parents before the fall. 
There is the garden of Eden, here the gloomy desert; there are the trees lovely to be- 
hold, with fruit inviting to the taste; here are thousands of thistles, the harvest from the 
sowing of sin; there is the eternal Father walking in the garden; here Satan is unfet- 
tered. Though in both cases the tempter is heard to say, 'Has God said?' yet in the 
one case the tempter is victorious, and in the other he is vanquished; there a curse is 
visited on the earth, here the curse is banished and the blessing restored. Forty days 
and forty nights did the Savior spend, as did Moses on Mount Sinai, without food and 
drink, in unbroken meditation and prayer. Then, at last, and doubtless with excrucia- 
ting hunger, that weakness of his human nature, which of itself is sinless, asserted itself. 
This condition served Satan as a medium for his first temptation. In the full conscious- 
ness of his power, the prince of darkness advances, and repeats, in substance, the same 
temptation that had proved so successful in paradise. His ' If thou be the Son of God ' is 
nothing else than a disguised 'Has God said?' alluding to the voice from heaven at the 
baptism. It involves the demand that he should prove himself to be the Son of God. 
' Show it that thou art the Son of God. It is unbecoming for a being of thy dignity to 
be in want and to suffer hunger. Make use of thy power, and help thyself. Why wilt 
thou perish? Spare thyself for thy great work. For thy own good and that of the 
suffering nation, employ thy miraculous powers, and begin thy work of the world's 
transformation. Every thing waits for it. Show thyself greater than Moses. Change 
the stones into bread, the thorns into vines, the thistles into fig-trees. Expel want, and 
sighing, and tears from the earth ; and, in order that the world may know who has 
appeared in thee, give order to the blasted paradise that it bloom again.' The Lord, 
without condescending to answer directly the question whether he was the Son of God, 
referred the devil to the manna given the people of Israel in the wilderness, and gives 
him to understand that he had not come into the world for personal enjoyment, but to 
suffer want as long as it was the will of God, who could sustain him without natural 
means. But, at the same time, this answer implies the truth: I have come to furnish the 
perishing people with another and more substantial bread than that which thou invitest 
me to produce from the stones of the wilderness; and thou canst not turn me out of the 
way of my mission, though it be a painful one. Tet Satan repeats the attempt in the 
second and third temptation. The leap from the Temple's summit, perhaps at the time 
of a feast, when the Holy City was thronged with priests, and scribes, and pious pil- 
grims — what mighty effects would it produce! A visible descent from the abrupt hight 
of the pinnacle, a safe arrival amid the wavering people, according to the Divine prom- 
ises, would instantaneously scatter all doubt as to the Messiahship, and extort from 
every one the confession: 'This man must have come from heaven. The angels of God 
bear him on their hands. He must be the Messiah, and it behooves us to do homage to 
him, and acknowledge him as our king.' But Jesus knew that an entirely-different 
course was divinely ordained for him, in order to find faith on the earth. As Moses had 
lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so should he be lifted up, and thus draw all men 
unto him. To appropriate the promises of the Father to himself in any other way, 
would be tempting God. The Messiah must not expose himself to peril, presumptuously 
trusting in the miraculous help of God. So the devil was again confounded. Yet he 
makes another desperate assault. Mindful that, according to the Messianic programme, 
the Messiah should have not only Israel, but also the heathens for an inheritance, 
Satan, as the ruler of heathendom, ventured to offer to the Lord his cooperation in 
the conquest of the immense territory. The thought of Satan, expanded to its full 



THE TEMPTATION OF OUR LORD IN THE WILDERNESS. 



229 



dimensions, was this: 'Grant me the honor to receive at my hands the programme of the 
world's conquest. Confiding in me you will be able, without painful effort, to ground 
the new order of things upon the old, and to graft Christianity upon the stock of hea- 
thenism. The nations will then throng to you, and, with their noble and wise men, bow 
themselves with awe before thy scepter.' In this last temptation Satan displays himself 
as 'the ruler of the whole world,' attempting to make Jesus his organ, to transform 
Christ into antichrist, by endeavoring to dazzle him through the promise of dominion 
over the world, and the manifestation of its splendor. He makes, with his offer, the 
covert insinuation that, by virtue of his dominion in heathendom, he has the power to 
turn the whole world against Jesus, if he rejects the proposal. In this temptation Satan 
appeared undisguised, and Christ addresses him as such." 

"Verses 1 — 11. 

(1) Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of 
the devil. : (2) And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was after- 
ward a hungered. (3) And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the 
Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. (4) But he answered and 
said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that pro- 
ceedeth out of the mouth of God. (5) Then the devil taketh him up into the holy 
city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the Temple, 2 (6) and saith unto him, If thou 
be the Son of God, cast thyself down : for it is written, He shall give his angels 
charge concerning thee : 3 and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any 
time thou dash thy foot against a stone. (7) Jesus said unto him, It is written 
again, Thou shalt not tempt 4 the Lord thy God. (8) Again the devil taketh him 
up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the 
world, and the glory of them ; (9) and saith unto him, All these things will I give 
thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. (10) Then saith Jesus unto him, Get 
thee hence, Satan : for it is written, 5 Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and 
him only shalt thou serve. (11) Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels 
came and ministered unto him. 



Verse 1. The Evangelists state expressly that 
the temptation of Christ took place immediately 
after his baptism, by which he was solemnly intro- 
duced into his Messianic office. Mark says: "The 
Spirit driveth him into the wilderness," while Mat- 
thew and Luke say : " He was led up of the Spirit 
into the wilderness." By this "Spirit" the Holy 



Ghost alone can be meant. — Into the wilder- 
ness. This word is here used not in its wider sense, 
as in iii, 1, but means a dreary desert, on which ac- 
count Mark adds: "He was with the wild beasts." 
According to tradition, it was a place only a few 
miles from Jerusalem, between Jericho and Beth- 
any, called the wilderness of Jericho, in Josh, xvi, 1. 



1 AiajBoAot — devil. The Greek name of the prince of 
the fallen angels. It means an accuser, slanderer. His 
Hebrew name is Satan. Both terms are used only in 
the singular in the Scriptures. (See 1 Thess. iii, 5; 
1 Cor. vii, 5.) 2 A pinnacle; Greek, to Tnepvyiov. Proba- 
bly Herod's royal portico, which is described by Jose- 
phus as a dizzy hight. (Antiq., XV, 11, 5.) The New 
Testament distinguishes strictly between the Temple 
proper — vo.6<; — and the buildings surrounding it, which, 
with the Temple, constitute a whole, and are called Up6v. 
3 Psa. xei, 11, 12. The words " To keep thee in all thy 
ways " are left out by the tempter. This omission, 
however, does not seem to have the design, generally 



ascribed to it, since, as Alexander remarks, " Our Lord 
makes no charge on account of it; and ways, in the orig- 
inal, does not mean ways of duty, but of Providence. 
Neither the tempter's argument nor Christ's reply to it 
would be at all affected by the introduction of the words 
suppressed." * The Greek verb used here for tempt is 
" an emphatic compound, meaning to draw out by trial, 
to try thoroughly. As applied to God, it means to put 
him to the proof, to demand further evidence of what 
is clear already, as in this case by requiring him to show 
his watchful care by an extraordinary intervention in 
a case of danger, willfully and needlessly incurred." 
(Alexander.) 5 Deut. vi, 13; Ex. xx, 3-5; Ps. lxxxi, 10. 



230 



MATTHEW IV, 1-1.1. 



— To be tempted. The express purpose of "he 
was led up." The Greek word for tempting — Kupa- 
£eiv — means to try, to put to the test. In a material 
sense, the term is applied to metals; in a moral 
sense, to human character, either with a good pur- 
pose, as in John vi, 6 ; Gen. xxii, 1 ; or with a bad 
purpose; namely, to incite to sin, to seduce. (1 Cor. 
vii, 5.) In the latter sense it is said of God, that he 
tempts no one; that is, he incites no one to sin. 
When it is said that he tempts men, the meaning is 
that he puts them to the test by giving them an op- 
portunity to overcome evil and to show their faith- 
fulness and love to God. Christ was led into the 
wilderness as our prototype and Redeemer, that he 
might endure and overcome the most violent as- 
saults of Satan. — Op the devil. The first Adam 
fell through the temptation of the serpent, which is 
called in other places the old dragon, the devil, and 
the first promise with regard to the Messiah was, 
that he was to bruise the serpent's head. This is 
not the place to discuss the existence of fallen 
spirits. No believer in the Bible can deny that God 
created besides man other intelligences, that some 
of these intelligences apostatized from God, and 
that a purely-spiritual being can exert an influence 
upon the human spirit. The Bible teaches plainly 
the existence of good and bad angels, and the dis- 
courses and explicit declarations of Christ (Matt. 
xiii, 39; John viii, 44; xiv, 30) confirm the doc- 
trine that the kingdom of God is opposed by a king- 
dom of Satan or kingdom of darkness. Christ calls 
its head and leader "devil," "prince of this world," 
and "prince of darkness," and his accomplices " serv- 
ants " or " angels of Satan." This head of the fallen 
spirits, himself a fallen, powerful spirit, but possessed 
of no Divine attributes, neither omniscience nor om- 
nipotence, is the tempter of Christ. The rationalists 
understand by the devil nothing else than the princi- 
ple of evil. They might as well deny the personality 
of Christ in this whole transaction. 

Verse 2. The term " fasting" here means not a 
partial, but a total abstinence from food, as is indi- 
cated by the " forty days and forty nights," since 
the Jews used to eat by night during their usual 
fasts. This appears also from the words of Luke 
iv, 2: "And in those days he did eat nothing; and 
when they were ended, he afterward hungered." 
This fasting, which reminds us of the fasting of 
Moses, (Deut. ix, 9-18,) and of Elias, (1 Kings 
xix, 8,) was not undergone by our Savior for the 
purpose of bodily mortification ; but he was so over- 
whelmed by the magnitude of his mediatorial office, 
into which he had just been introduced by John, 
that, for forty days and forty nights, he felt neither 
hunger nor thirst. In proof that a total abstinence 
from food for such a length of time is not physically 
impossible, learned physicians have adduced some 
well-attested cases. The proof, however, is unneces- 
sary, as the fasting of the God-man is altogether 
unique iu its nature. 



Verse 3. And when the tempter came to him. 
Literally, The tempter, coming to him. The ques- 
tion arises here, what sense the devil attached to the 
term " Son of God," or what knowledge he had of 
the real divinity of Christ. Inasmuch as it is highly 
improbable that he would have dared or thought it 
possible to tempt a Divine person, we have to as- 
sume that he used the word "Son of God" in that 
lower sense in which it was sometimes applied to 
angels and to extraordinary men. He recognized 
in him the Messiah, but had, we may presume, very 
indistinct conceptions concerning the mystery of the 
incarnation. — The first temptation implies that the 
person to whom it was addressed was, on the one 
hand, so constituted that he could feel a want of 
food, which, in that moment, could not be grati- 
fied in any ordinary way, and that he was, on the 
other hand, one who was supposed to possess the 
power of satisfying that want in an extraordinary 
and miraculous manner. The temptation consisted, 
therefore, in this, that a person endowed with a 
power to work miracles was called upon to exercise 
that power to satisfy his human wants, at a time 
when he was hard pressed by physical need. 

Verse 4. Jesus replies to the tempter in words 
taken from Deuteronomy viii, 3. The majority of 
commentators understand the meaning of these 
words to be this: The preservation of the life of 
man is not necessarily connected with the ordinary 
means of subsistence; but it can be sustained with- 
out bread by the Word — that is, commandment that 
proceeds from the mouth of God — in an extraordi- 
nary way, as the Israelites were sustained by manna 
in the wilderness. This explanation does certainly 
correspond with the meaning of the words, as they 
occur in Deuteronomy, taken along with their con- 
text. Yet we have good ground for asking whether 
this sense must necessarily attach to the words as 
quoted by Jesus. There can be no doubt that Jesus 
and his apostles often gave to passages of the Old 
Testament a more general application, and raised 
them into a higher sphere. And there is reason to 
suppose that this is the case in this passage. The 
antithesis is not, as is generally supposed, between 
bread and any other means of life, but between it 
and the Word of God — in other words, between bod- 
ily nourishment and spiritual nourishment. Thus, 
when Jesus is asked by the tempter to make his 
power to do miracles available for supplying his 
physical wants — to use the higher, God-given fac- 
ulty in the service of mere human self-gratifica- 
tion — he replies : No ; for there is a higher life, which 
is not upheld by any outward nourishment, but which 
lives by all that comes from the mouth of God. In 
these words he says essentially the same thing which 
he afterward expressed thus: "My meat is to do 
the will of him that sent me, and to finish his 
work." 

Verses 5-7. The summons addressed to Christ 
to cast himself from the pinnacle of the Temple, 



THE TEMPTATION OF OUR LORD IN THE WILDERNESS. 



231 



goes, like the first temptation, upon the assumption 
of a peculiar personality in Jesus; namely, that the 
tempted was, as "the Son of God," under the special 
care and protection of Jehovah. The tempter ap- 
peals not so much to the wonder-working power of 
Jesus himself, as to the miraculous help of God. 
Jesus is not called to perform some unheard-of mir- 
acle, but to do something apparently dangerous. 
This view is confirmed by the Scripture passages 
quoted both by the tempter and by our Lord in his 
answer. The passage quoted by the tempter (Psa. 
xei, 11, 12) refers solely to the Divine protection, 
under which the Beloved of Jehovah stood. The 
reply of our Lord, taken from Deuteronomy vi, 16, 
is also without any reference to a miracle, and only 
points out how impious and vain it would be to 
tempt Providence by throwing one's self needlessly 
in the way of clanger. The enticing element in this 
temptation was the idea of calling forth the Divine 
protection, of proving whether God would preserve 
his anointed Son in circumstances of most immi- 
nent danger, and a danger which did not come in 
the simple, God-appointed path of duty, but was 
arbitrarily and vaingloriously incurred. There can 
be no doubt that a temptation like this has a certain 
charm for men who feel penetrated with a con- 
sciousness that they have a special mission to per- 
form ; and many a one whom an idea like this has 
blinded, has precipitated himself from the pinnacle 
of the Temple into the abyss of perdition. Thus 
the attempt might well be made with Jesus, who, 
though the Son of God, was yet truly man, to test 
whether the thought of putting the Divine protec- 
tion to the utmost proof had no attractions for him ; 
and this constitutes the second temptation. In it 
we have vividly brought before us what a contrast 
there is between a true and sound confidence in 
God, by the strength of which one who is conscious 
of a high mission is enabled to walk in the God- 
appointed way of his calling, and that false assur- 
ance by which a man may be led, in the vain idea 
of a higher protection, arbitrarily to select for him- 
self paths of danger. 

Verses 8-10. The temptation which is mentioned 
by Luke as the second, is rightly put last by Mat- 
thew; for it is the most trying and the most alluring 
of the three, and in it the tempter appears in a form 
undisguised. The devil calls upon the Savior to 
worship him, and promises that, if he does so, he 
will give him all the kingdoms of the world. This 
temptation has been generally held to consist in the 
invitation to found an earthly kingdom. But an- 
other view has also been maintained. It has been 
said that what the temptation really consisted in 
was the thought of employing a bad means in order 
to gain an end which might in itself be good. This 
exposition is correct, if we are to confine our view 
to the words spoken by Satan. But this we can not 
do. We must contemplate these words in the con- 
nection in which they stand. Immediately before 



we read that Satan had shown our Lord the king- 
doms of the world and their glory. To go no fur- 
ther than this expression, the "glory" of the king- 
doms of the world points to a kingdom, not of 
self-denying love, but of splendid dominion, and 
thus to a mere outward kingdom. Besides, Satan 
appears here as the prince of the world, (compare 
John viii, 44; xii, 31; Eph. ii, 2; vi, 12,) and offers 
to transfer to Christ his sovereignty over it. Now, 
such a kingdom as he could possess and offer, must, 
from its very nature, have been a mere earthly, un- 
godly kingdom. We see, then, that in this tempta- 
tion a kingdom of outward glory is offered to Jesus, 
as one who was fully conscious that he was destined 
to be a king. And the great point here brought out 
is the antagonism between these two kingdoms — a 
kingdom of the world, which could be set up only 
by the use of worldly means, and a kingdom of God 
which is not to be established in any carnal way, but 
must have its foundation in the pure worship of God 
alone. — We must regard it as highly significant that 
the power which tempts is brought before us in the 
unity of a person in the form of Satan; (that is, of 
him to whom are given over the kingdoms of this 
world.) We are thereby taught that not merely this 
or that form of sin, not only some individual evil, 
but the very principle of evil itself assailed Jesus, 
and was overcome by him. From this point of view 
both the temptation and victory of Jesus acquire a 
universal character and application. In the person 
of Jesus he was tempted whose destiny it was to be 
the founder of the kingdom of God. In the decisive 
rejection of the false and the adoption of the true 
idea of the Messiah, in the refusal of a worldly king- 
dom and the choice of the kingdom of God, a tri- 
umph was gained over the power of evil generally, 
and this achievement not only evinced the capability 
of Jesus to found a Divine kingdom, but constituted 
him, for all times, the prototype of victory over every 
species of temptation. — We have contemplated the 
three temptations in their Christological significance. 
But we must not overlook that, while Jesus was tried 
in his character of Messiah, he was also assailed as 
a man. It could not be said of him that he was 
tempted in all points like as we are, if his tempta- 
tions had only a special Messianic, not a general 
human character. They exhibit the spiritual Head 
of our race as tried like our natural, physical head, 
but with contrary results. The temptation, in the 
individual suggestions, seems to have consisted 
partly in that which would prove seductive to hu- 
man nature in its usual forms, and partly in that 
which is peculiarly alluring to men of a higher order, 
who are called to a higher vocation. The first tempt- 
ation may be regarded as a common, a universal hu- 
man temptation, if for the power to do miracles we 
substitute God-given faculties which every man pos- 
sesses, and which every man may either turn to 
purposes of selfishness and self-love or use in the 
service of a higher life. The second temptation can 



232 



MATTHEW IV, 1-11. 



apply more particularly only to that smaller circle to 
whom, by reason of great mental endowments or a 
high position in life, a peculiar mission has been 
assigned. And yet it may be viewed as in a sense 
applicable to all; for all, even the humblest, have a 
work to do and a God-appointed way to follow. The 
third temptation also has a special application only 
to the very small number of those who are called to 
a position of sovereignty ; and yet the general prin- 
ciple of the superior glory of inward and spiritual 
dominion to mere outward dignity and power may 
have some import for all. All the temptations have 
thus a more general application ; for in one form or 
another there is in all men some point assailable to 
their attack, and it is equally evident that the prin- 
ciples put forth by Jesus in opposition to the tempter 
are of universal application. 

Verse 11. The devil having left him, angels came 
and ministered unto him. After the powers of dark- 
ness had retired, the angels of light surrounded him 
and celebrated with him his victory. The tempter 
demanded of Jesus to serve him. Instead of this 
the angels served and paid their homage to Jesus, 
declaring thereby that he is the King of the king- 
dom of light. Some understand by the ministering 
of the angels that they brought refreshments unto 
him, such as his suffering nature stood then so much 
in need of, similarly as Elijah had been fed by an- 
gels. (1 Kings xix, 5.) 



HOMILETIC SUGGESTIONS. 
The temptation of our Savior inculcates admoni- 
tions that ought to be pondered well by every Chris- 
tian. Let us learn from it: 

1. What a powerful enemy it is with whom we 
have to deal. He hesitated not to assail even the 
Lord Jesus Christ, and not satisfied with being re- 
pulsed once, he repeated his assaults. It was Satan, 
that introduced sin into the world, who assailed Job 
and caused Peter and David to fall; it is Satan, who 
never sleeps nor slumbers, but is constantly at work 
to drag men into ruin. There is no more dangerous 
enemy than he, whom we can not see, and who can 
approach us every-where and at all times. Let us 
constantly be on our guard against him by watchful- 
ness and prayer. 

2. As Satan dealt with the Lord in the wilderness, 
so he deals with his followers, and, alas! but too 
often success crowns his efforts. He approaches the 
afflicted child of God in disguise, and whispers: 
" Art thou a child of God, and art in more destitute 
circumstances than the children of the world ? thou 
hast not the necessaries of life, and art exposed to 
the storms of the elements and of man ; help thy- 
self and God will help thee." And but too many 
take his advice and go to work to convert stones 
into bread; that is, in order to help themselves they 
have recourse to unauthorized expedients, and thus 



fall a prey to Satan, whose yoke they had thrown 
off. Others, instead of waiting patiently for the 
help of the Lord, suffer shipwreck of their faith, 
saying : " There is no reality about Christ and his 
religion." Let such backsliders be a warning to 
you, and bear in mind that while you are to be puri- 
fied in the crucible of affliction, the Lord knows how 
to preserve his people ; for he has said to them : 
" Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she 
should not have compassion on the son of her 
womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget 
thee." (Isa. xlix, 15.) God is never at a loss how 
and whence to supply all our wants. — If the devil 
can not approach thee from the one side, he tries it 
from another. If he does not succeed to fill you 
with mistrust and discouragement, he tries to en- 
tice you to presumption. To expose ourselves to 
danger when neither the honor of God nor duty 
to our fellow-men calls upon us to do so, is pre- 
sumption. 

3. The devil and wicked men promise much to 
those who will serve them, but their wages is ruin. 
Whoever sets before others the things of this world, 
riches, honor, etc., as the objects of life, acts toward 
them the part of the devil. How often is this the 
position of parents toward their children ! — All 
compromises with the world must be unconditionally 
rejected, and this can be done only by a firm resolu- 
tion to serve God alone. The greater and harder 
the struggle, the more glorious and blessed the vic^ 
tory. At no other time is a man more contented 
and happy than when he has come victorious out of 
a great struggle. When the temptation is over, 
God's holy messengers visit us, tranquillity and 
peace fill the heart. 

4. Every Christian must expect temptations. In 
themselves they are not sinful ; but to yield to them, 
to give them room in the heart, is sinful. No one, 
not even the most advanced Christian, is exempted 
from temptations. The disciple is not greater than 
his Master, nor the servant greater than his Lord. 
Human nature, in the present stage of probation, 
has inclinations, wishes, desires, and passions, which 
are liable to abuse. 

5. The main weapon to vanquish Satan with, is 
the Word of God. By what means did Jesus repel 
the assaults of Satan? Not by a superhuman, mi- 
raculous, but by a moral power — by faith in God, by 
whom alone we can live — by faith in man's solemn 
obligation to serve God alone, and especially by faith 
in God's Word. How important is it, therefore, that 
we should daily search the Scriptures! The Word 
of God enables us to repel every attack of Satan, 
no matter in what form it is made. It is the sword 
of the Spirit, and those that understand to wield it 
best are most successful in their struggles with 
Satan. It is the lamp for our feet. How necessary 
is it, therefore, that we should be thoroughly familiar 
with the Scriptures, that we should read and medi- 
tate upon them daily! 



OUR LORD'S OPENING OF HIS MINISTRY IN GALILEE. 



233 



6. In all our temptations we can with certainty 
calculate upon the sympathy of our great High- 
Priest, " for in that he himself has suffered, being 
tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted." 
He is a powerful friend, who sympathizes with his 
people in all their trials. Are they tempted by Satan 
to doubt God's love and tender care for his people? 
So was Jesus. Are they tempted to expose them- 
selves unnecessarily to danger in presumptuously 
trusting in supernatural help? So was Jesus. Are 
they tempted to give heed to a false interpretation 
of a Scripture passage as an excuse of a forbidden 
act? So was Jesus. He is the very Deliverer of 
those who are tempted. To him they must take ref- 
uge; before him they must pour out their hearts; 
his ear is always open to hear; his heart is always 
ready to sympathize with them, and his power is 
able to succor them. 

1. Preachers of the Gospel especially may learn 



important lessons from the temptations of Christ. 
Their entry upon their office is often a time of trial 
in every respect, and Satan is not disposed, during 
their whole career, to let any opportunity pass un- 
improved, either to tempt them to presumption or 
despair, or to try to insnare them by the charms of 
this world. They can not reach the goal without 
being exposed to the fiery darts of the adversary. 
But let them, like their Lord and Master, commence 
their work with fasting and unceasing prayer, and 
spend much of their time in secret. 

8. In the temptation of Christ the Church has the 
dangers clearly marked out, to which she is exposed 
in the service of the Lord. She apostatizes when 
she strives to attain to influence and power by com- 
promising with the spirit of the world, when she at- 
tempts to change the world into the kingdom of God 
by placing her spiritual power at the disposal of 
Satan. 



OUR LORD'S 
THE CALL 



FORMAL OPENING OF HIS MINISTRY IN GALILEE, AND 
OF SIMON, ANDREW, JAMES, AND JOHN INTO HIS 
PERMANENT SERVICE. 



Inasmuch as it is not Matthew's design to follow a chronological order in his Gospel, 
he evidently does not intend to represent what he now relates of our Lord's ministry in 
Galilee, as being immediately preceded by the temptation in the wilderness. The fact 
that he explicitly confines his narrative to what happened after the Baptist's imprison- 
ment, of which event he gives us the particulars in chap, xiv, 3-5, refutes, for itself, the 
frivolous charge of Strauss that "Matthew is here in contradiction with John's Gospel." 
His statement that " Jesus departed into Galilee when he heard that John was cast into 
prison," forces the reader to the conclusion that the Evangelist had wittingly omitted all 
those events that had preceded John's imprisonment. Luke also speaks of Jesus as re- 
turning to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, (iv, 14;) that is, in the power of the same 
Spirit which he had manifested elsewhere. The many important events that took place 
between the temptation of our Lord, and his (second) return to Galilee, the reader will 
find in the synoptical table of the Gospel History, (Nos. 23-45.) 

Robinson and all other harmonists, so far as we know, except Andrews, put our 
Lord's leaving Judea for Galilee, spoken of Matt, iv, 12, Mark i, 14, and Luke iv, 14, 
soon after the first Passover, and assume it to have been occasioned by our Lord's hear- 
ing of the Baptist's imprisonment. Under this supposition the call of Simon, Andrew, 
James, and John to become his constant attendants, (Matt, iv, 18-22; Mark i, 16-20; 
Luke v, 6-11,) would fall into the first year of our Lord's ministry. This view Mr. 
Andrews refutes, and contends that, when our Lord left Judea for Galilee, after his first 
Passover, it was not in consequence of the Baptist's imprisonment, but in consequence 
of the Pharisees sowing dissensions between the disciples of the Baptist and his own, 
according to John iv, 1-3. According to this view, the departure for Galilee, spoken of 
by John, is not mentioned at all by the Synoptists, while, on the other hand, John makes 
no mention of our Lord's leaving Judea for Galilee after the second Passover, in conse- 
quence of the Baptist's imprisonment, to which the Synoptists refer. That this is the 
correct view Mr. Andrews makes very clear by the following irrefutable arguments : 
1. From John iv, 1, (compare iii, 23, 24,) we learn that, when Jesus retired into Gal- 
ilee, the Baptist's work was still in progress. He could, therefore, not yet have been 



234 MATTHEW IV, 12-25. 



cast into prison. 2. If we compare the account of what followed the return of Jesus 
to Galilee, as given by the Synoptists, with that given by John, (iv, 43-54,) it is evi- 
dent that there is a reference to two different periods. According to the Synoptists, 
(Matt, iv, 12-25 ; Mark i, 14-21 ; Luke iv, 14, 15,) so soon as Jesus heard of John's 
imprisonment, he began his labors in Galilee, gathering a body of disciples, working 
miracles, and teaching in all the synagogues. His fame spread immediately through 
the whole region, and wherever he went crowds followed him. According to John, 
Jesus went to Galilee, not to begin his public ministry there, but to find retirement. 
It is true he did not find the privacy which he sought, because the Galileans had 
seen all the things that he had done at Jerusalem at the feast, and held him, there- 
fore, in honor. Very soon after his arrival in Galilee the nobleman from Capernaum 
sought his aid; but, aside from .this, there is no indication that he performed any 
miracles, or engaged in any public teaching. No disciples are spoken of as with him, 
nor any crowds of people. And when he goes up to the feast, spoken of by John, 
(v, 1,) the second Passover, he does not appear to have been attended by any disciples. 
3. When Jesus heard of John's imprisonment he was in Judea, and there is no reason to 
suppose that, after he gave up baptizing and retired into Galilee, he came again into 
Judea till the feast. (John v, 1.) It was at this time — April, 781 — that he heard at 
Jerusalem of John's imprisonment, to which he alludes in his address to the Jews. 
(John v, 35.) We may, therefore, place the imprisonment of John a little before this 
feast— about March, 781. 

To put the return to Galilee, of which the Synoptists speak, after the second Pass- 
over, as Mr. Andrews does, is not only of great chronological importance, but it also sets 
the relation of the Judean to the Galilean ministry in the right light, and gives us the 
best reason that may be assigned for the silence of the Synoptists concerning our Lord's 
ministry in Judea. This deeply-interesting subject is thoroughly discussed by Mr. An- 
drews, (Life of our Lord, pp. 120, 121; 124-130; 186-192,) who makes the essential dis- 
tinction between our Lord's work in Judea, and that in Galilee, to consist in this, that 
the former, having reference to the Jewish people in their corporate capacity, as a nation 
in covenant with God, aimed to produce a national repentance, while the Galilean min- 
istry was based upon the fact that the ecclesiastical rulers of the Jews would not receive 
him, and had sought to kill him, and that, therefore, our Lord went to Galilee, the place 
designated centuries before, as the prominent scene of the Messianic ministry, in order 
to organize there a body of disciples, by whom the foundations of the New Testament 
Church were to be laid, into which the Gentiles were to be invited and ingrafted, and 
which was to take the place of the Jewish Church, if she persevered in her rejection of 
the Messiah. If we look in this light upon the first year of our Lord's ministry in 
Judea — a subject which we will more fully discuss in the Gospel of John — it is not sur- 
prising that the Synoptists should pass it over in silence, as being of a merely-prepar- 
atory character, and failing of accomplishing its end, the national recognition of the 
Messiah, and that they should, therefore, date the ministry of our Lord from his depart- 
ure into Galilee after the imprisonment of the Baptist ; for this event was really, as 
they represent it, the turning-point, the dividing-line between the old and new covenant. 
So long as the Baptist was yet at work, our Lord takes no step toward the formation of a 
Church on a new foundation. 

For other reasons which may be assigned for the omission of the Judean ministry by 
the Synoptists, see § 32 in the General Introduction. Entirely untenable and unsatisfac- 
tory is the reason given by Alford ; namely, "that the Synoptists' sources of information, 
till the last visit to Jerusalem, seem to have been exclusively Galilean, and derived 
from persons who became attached to our Lord at a later period than any of the events 
recorded in the first portion of John's Gospel." 



OUR LORD'S OPENING OF HIS MINISTRY IN GALILEE. 



235 



Verses 13— 25. 

(12) 'Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed 
into Galilee; (13) and leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, 1 
which is upon the sea-coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim : 2 (14) that 
it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, (15) The land 
of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, 3 beyond 4 Jordan, 
Galilee of the Gentiles; 5 (16) the people which sat in darkness saw great light; 
and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. 
(17) From that time Jesus began 6 to preach, and to say, Repent : for the kingdom 
of heaven is at hand. (18) And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, 7 saw two 
brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea : 
for they were fishers. (19) And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make 



1 According to the best readings, Ka<J>apva6un — Kapliar- 
naum — that is, the town of Nahum, or, as some of the 
Fathers translated Nahum, town of comfort. As the 
place is not mentioned in the Old Testament or Apoc- 
rypha, it probably arose in the century before Christ. 
Josephus mentions the town once by the name of Ce- 
pharnome, and also a fountain Kapharnaum. Its exact 
site has been much contested. As nothing hangs on the 
decision, we pass over the discussion on this point, which 
can be of interest only to those who visit the Holy Land, 
or can identify the different spots by accurate descrip- 
tions. It was in the land of Gennesaret, (Matt, xiv, 34,) 
that rich, busy plain, which we know, from the descrip- 
tions of Josephus and other sources, to have been, at 
that time, one of the most prosperous and crowded dis- 
tricts in all Palestine. Being on the north-west shore 
of the lake, Capernaum was lower than Nazareth and 
Cana of Galilee, from which the road to it was one of 
descent. (John ii, 12.) It was of sufficient size to be 
always called " a city " — iroAi? — had its own synagogue, 
in which our Lord frequently taught — a synagogue which 
was built by the Roman centurion. (Luke vii, 1.) Be- 
sides the Roman garrison, it had also a custom-station, 
where the dues were gathered, both by stationary and 
itinerant officers. If the "way of the sea" was the 
great road from Damascus to the south, the duties may 
have been levied not only on the fish and other com- 
merce of the lake, but on the caravans of merchandise 
passing to Galilee and Judea. The main interest at- 
taching to Capernaum is that it wa3 the residence of our 
Lord, (Mark ii, 1,) and of Andrew and Peter, James 
and John, and probably of Matthew. 2 Zebulun and 
Naphtali were the names of two of Jacob's sons, (Gen. 
xxx, 8, 20,) and of the tribes descended from them. 
(Num. i, 8, 9.) The slight difference in orthography 
between these and some other names in the Old and 
New Testaments results from their difference of sound in 
the Hebrew and Greek. 3 That is, near, adjacent to the 
Sea of Galilee. iu Beyond is in Hebrew a noun, origin- 
ally meaning jxissage or crossing, then the side or bank 
of a stream, whether the nearer or the further side. In 
the Old Testament it usually means the country east of 
Jordan, but in some cases no less certainly the west 
side. As here used it is understood by some to mean 
the country east of Jordan— called, in Greek, Pcrea — 
and to describe a different tract from those mentioned in 



the previous clauses. But, more probably, it means here 
the country lying along Jordan, on the west side, and is 
in apposition to what goes before ; that is, descriptive 
of the same tract or region ; namely, the land of Zebu- 
lun and Naphtali, which was partly adjacent to the Sea 
of Galilee and partly to the River Jordan." (Alexander.) 
5 Galilee — Hebrew, Galil — means circle or circuit. The 
" circuit of the Gentiles" was called the upper part of 
the country of Zabulon and Nephthalim, which, by the 
old division of the tribes, bordered on the Sea of Gal- 
ilee. (Gen. xlix, 13.) Even as early as in the days of 
Isaiah, Galilee's population was a great deal mixed. 
This mixture had since greatly increased, whence the 
expression, "Galilee of the Gentiles." All non-Jews 
were called Gentiles. The population, especially in the 
northern part — Upper Galilee — consisted, to a great ex- 
tent, of Egyptians, Arabs, and Phoenicians. 6 Namely, 
more publicly and regularly. He had preached before, 
both in Galilee and Judea. 7 It was called, in the Old 
Testament, the "Sea of Chinnereth " or "Cinneroth," 
(Num. xxxiv, 11,) from a town of that name, which stood 
on or near its shore. In the later Hebrew its name is 
"Ginesar." Josephus calls it "Lake of Gennesaris " — 
rewrjo-apiTis Ai>nj. At its north-western angle was a 
beautiful and fertile plain, called "Gennesaret," (Matt, 
xiv, 34,) from which the name of the lake was taken. 
In the New Testament the lake is called " Sea of Gal- 
ilee," from the province of Galilee, which bordered on 
its north-western coast, and "Sea of Tiberias," from 
the celebrated city on its south-west shore. Through 
its center, from north to south, runs the River Jordan. 
On both sides of its inlet, at the northern extremity of 
the lake, stood the double town of Bethsaida ; further 
west, Chorazin and Capernaum ; south-west of the lat- 
ter, the plain of Gennesaret; still further south, the city 
of Tiberias. On the curve of the shore, south-east of 
Bethsaida, was most probably the grassy plain of Bu- 
taiha, where the five thousand were miraculously fed; 
further down, on the eastern shore, Gergesa, the place 
of the two demoniacs and the possessed swine. The 
lake is of an oval shape, about thirteen geographical 
miles long and six broad. Its most remarkable feature 
is its deep depression, being no less than seven hundred 
feet below the level of the ocean. On the east the banks 
are nearly two thousand feet high, destitute of verdure 
and of foliage ; on the north there is a gradual descent 



236 



MATTHEW IV, 12-25. 



you fishers of men. (20) And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. 
(21) And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zeb- 
edee, and John his brother, in a ship 8 with Zebedee their father, mending their 
nets; and he called them. (22) And they immediately left the ship and their 
father, and followed him. (23) And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their 
synagogues, 9 and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner 
of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. (24) And his fame went 
throughout all Syria : 10 and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken 
with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, u 
and those which were lunatic, 12 and those that had the palsy ; and he healed them. 
(25) And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from 
Decapolis, 13 and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan. u 



Verse 12. This journey to Galilee is the one 
referred to in Mark i, 14 ; Luke iv, 14 — not the one 
mentioned by John iv, 1-3. See on this and on the 
time of the Baptist's imprisonment, the introduc- 
tory remarks to this section and § 37 in the General 
Introduction. 

Verse 13. And leaving Nazareth. In Luke 
iv, 16-31, we are informed of the circumstances of 
his visit to Nazareth, and his rejection by his fellow- 
townsmen, -r- He came and dwelt. "This is not a 
pleonastic or superfluous expression, but a distinct 
statement of the fact that he not onlv went to 



Capernaum, as he often did at other times, but that 
he now took up his abode there. What is here re- 
corded is our Lord's adoption of Capernaum, in- 
stead of Nazareth, as the center of his ministry, 
from which he went forth on his missions or official 
journeys." (Alexander.) 

Verse 14. That it might be fulfilled. The 
meaning is, that Jesus went to Galilee in order to 
fulfill the purpose of God, which he had declared 
through the prophet ; namely, to send the bright 
light of the Gospel to this benighted and despised 
country. 



from the table-land to the valley of the Jordan, and 
then a gradual rising again to a plateau of nearly equal 
elevation, skirting the mountains of Upper Galilee. The 
western banks are less regular; yet they present the 
same general features — plateaus of different altitudes 
breaking down abruptly to the shores. In Summer the 
heat is intense, and the vegetation is almost of a trop- 
ical character. Snow very rarely falls. The water of 
the lake is sweet, cool, and transparent. The lake 
abounds in fish now, as in ancient times; but the fishery 
is greatly neglected. 8 A small fishing-boat. 9 Syna- 
gogues were the places of religious assembly among the 
Jews after the return from the captivity. Tradition 
and the Targums ascribe a very early origin to syna- 
gogues ; and Deut. xxxi, 11, and Psa. lxxiv, 8, are cited 
as testimonies to it. But the former passage does not 
necessarily imply it, and it is doubtful whether that 
Psalm was not itself written after the captivity. They 
are generally supposed to have originated in Babylon, 
and thence to have been brought, on the return, into the 
mother-land. (See Neh. viii, 1-8.) At the Christian 
era there was a synagogue in every town, and in some 
larger town? several. (See Acts ix, 2, 20.) In Jerusa- 
lem, according to the Rabbinical writings, there were 
upward of four hundred and fifty. (Acts vi, 9.) The 
people assembled in them on Sabbath and festival days, 
and, in later times, also on the second and fifth day of 
each week, for public prayer and the hearing of por- 
tions of Scripture. (Luko iv, 16; Acts xiii, 15.) The 
officers of the synagogues were : 1. The ruler, (Luke viii, 
49; xiii, 14; Acts xviii, 8, 17,) who had the care of 
public order and the arrangement of the service ; 2. The 
elders, (Luke vii, 3,) called rulers of the synagogue by 



Mark, (v, 22,) seem to have formed a sort of council, 
under the presidency of the ruler of the synagogue ; 
3. The legatus or angelus ecclesiae, who was the 
reader of prayers, and also secretary and messenger 
of the synagogues; 4. The vnripir^, (Luke iv, 20,) the 
chapel clerk, whose office was to prepare the books for 
reading, sweep, open and shut the synagogue. Besides 
these there appear to have been alms-gatherers. The 
synagogue was fitted up with seats, of which the first 
row was an object of ambition with the scribes. (Matt. 
xxiii, 6.) A pulpit for the reader, lamps, and a chest 
for keeping the sacred books appear to complete the 
furniture of the ancient synagogue. Punishments — 
e. g., scourging — were inflicted in the synagogues. 
The catechising also of children seems to have taken 
place there, as also disputations on religious questions. 
(Abridged and quoted from Winer, by Alford.) 10 The 
term seems here not to be used with geographical exact- 
ness. Mark says : " Throughout all the region round 
about Galilee." Syria was a Roman province, extend- 
ing from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean, from the 
mountains of Taurus and Amanus in the north to the 
borders of Egypt in the south. n On demoniacs see the 
notes on chap, viii, 28. 12 Or moonstruck; persons af- 
flicted with epilepsy. The name originated from the 
opinion that this disease was subject to the influence of 
the moon. 13 Literally, ten cities. They are enumerated 
by Pliny and Ptolemy ; but the names of some are un- 
certain. It was a district east of Jordan, and not far 
from the Lake of Galilee, inhabited, for the most part, 
by Greeks. H That is, Perea, the country east of Jor- 
dan, between the rivers Jabbok and Arnon. (Jos, Bell. 
Jud., Ill, 3, 3.) 



OUR LORD'S OPENING OF HIS MINISTRY IN GALILEE. 



237 



Verses 15, 16. The Evangelist gives the proph- 
ecy (Is. ix, 1, 2) in an abbreviated form, beginning 
with the last words of a sentence, which he intro- 
duces to identify the subject. That part of the 
memorable prophecy, which Matthew quotes in an 
abbreviated form, will be better understood in the 
translation of Lowth : 

" But there shall not hereafter be darkness in the land 

which wa3 distressed : 
In the former time he debased 
The land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali ; 
But in the latter time he made it glorious : 
Even the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of 

the Gentiles, 
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great 

light; 
They that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, 
Unto them hath the light shined." 

The prophet then continues to describe the king- 
dom of the Messiah, the Prince of Peace. The 
night of ignorance and sin had been constantly on 
the increase during the seven centuries that had 
elapsed since this prophecy was first uttered, and 
the Evangelist was, therefore, fully justified in say- 
ing that, prior to the coming of the Savior, they 
sat in — that is, they were for some time in a state 
of — darkness. Olshausen remarks : " Of the inhab- 
itants of these northern provinces it could very 
properly be said, that they dwelt in the land of the 
shadow of death, partly because they were far re- 
moved from the theocratic center, Jerusalem and 
the Temple, where the knowledge of God that was 
enjoyed by the nation mainly centered, and partly 
because they came into frequent contact with their 
heathen neighbors, and were, therefore, legally un- 
clean. But these Galileans, whom the strict Jews 
despised as semi-Gentiles, were, at the same time, 
best prepared for the new doctrine of the kingdom 
of God, having been freed, by their intercourse with 
the surrounding nations, from all Jewish exclusive- 
ness, and their deplorable condition making the 
want of redemption the more keenly felt. In like 
manner, as the penitent sinner is nearer the king- 
dom of God than the self-righteous moralist, so 
the Lord revealed himself to the poor Galileans be- 
fore the other inhabitants of Palestine." 

Verse 17. From that time Jesus began to 
preach. That is, the regular Galilean ministry 
dated from the imprisonment of John and the de- 
parture into Galilee that immediately followed it. 
In what sanse this preaching was distinguished from 
our Lord's previous labors, we have shown in the 
introductory remarks of this section. " Luke seems 
plainly to intimate that the first teaching of the 
Lord in the synagogues was that which he records 
at Nazareth. That his enemies at Jerusalem re- 
garded his labors as first taking positive form and 
character in Galilee, appears from their accusation, 
(Luke xxiii, 5:) 'He stirreth up the people, teach- 
ing throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to 



this place.' (See also Acts x, 37.) As God had 
ordered that Galilee should be the chief theater of 
his teaching, so he providentially overruled the po- 
litical arrangements of the time, that there he could 
labor without hinderance, since the tetrarch Herod 
Antipas did not trouble himself concerning any ec- 
clesiastical movements that did not disturb the pub- 
lic peace. And here the people were also less under 
the influence of the hierarchy, and more open to his 
instructions." (Andrews.) 

Verse 18. From John i, 35-42, we learn that 
the four disciples mentioned by Matthew were al- 
ready acquainted with Jesus. It is worthy of note 
that John mentions only Philip as having been ex- 
pressly called, on that occasion, to follow Jesus. 
Though all those disciples mentioned by John be- 
came, at that time, followers of Jesus, recognizing 
in him the Messiah, they became not, at that time, 
his personal and constant attendants, but returned, 
after having attended the Passover, to their occupa- 
tion as fishermen. Their actual vocation to the 
apostleship is here described; but even this is to be 
distinguished from their proper ordination or install- 
ment into the apostolic office, narrated chap, x, 1-4; 
Mark iii, 14; Luke vi, 13-15. Neander observes: 
" Christ suffered the first impressions produced by 
his personal appearance, his teaching, and his mir- 
acles upon the hearts of these susceptible youug 
men, to develop themselves, and attached them per- 
manently to his person only after he had thus im- 
pressed them a number of times." The call of the 
four disciples is also recorded by Mark, (i, 14—20,) 
and by Luke, (v, 1-11.) The three accounts evi- 
dently refer to the same transaction, notwithstand- 
ing some seeming discrepancies in the details. The 
principal discrepancy lies in this, that Matthew repre- 
sents Simon and Andrew as still engaged in casting 
out their nets when Jesus came to the Sea of Gal- 
ilee, while, according to Luke, they had left their 
boats by that time. But this discrepancy will at 
once disappear if we bear in mind that Matthew re- 
cords simply the coming of Jesus to the coast, with- 
out saying whether he made there a longer or a 
shorter stay, while we have to infer, from Luke's 
statement, that the Savior staid for some time on 
the shore. The fishermen may have been still en- 
gaged in fishing when Jesus arrived at the shore; 
but the boats may have landed soon afterward, and 
the fishermen gone ashore. Meanwhile the people 
had gathered around him, according to Luke, and, 
pressed by them, he entered into one of the boats, 
that was Simon's, thrust out a little from the land, 
and taught the people from out of the boat. And 
though Luke does not mention, by name, Andrew, 
who was, according to Matthew and Mark, with his 
brother Simon, he distinctly intimates that there was 
some one with Simon in the boat. " Launch out 
into the deep" is the singular, but "let down your 
nets" is the plural, (v. 4.) Simon answers, (v. 5:) 
" We have toiled, and have taken nothing;" and in 



238 



MATTHEW IV, 12-25. 



verse 6 it is said: "They inclosed a great multi- 
tude of fishes." Luke's object was to give promi- 
nence to the impression produced by Jesus, and as 
this impression appeared most plainly from the 
words of Peter, Luke mentions him alone. But it 
is further objected " that, according to Matthew, the 
two brothers, Simon and Andrew, followed Jesus at 
his word; according to Luke, in consequence of the 
miraculous draft." In this there is certainly no con- 
tradiction whatever. Matthew does not mention the 
miraculous draft at all. His sole object was to re- 
cord what seemed most important to him; that is, 
the calling of the apostles. But Luke goes into de- 
tails, and gives the concomitant circumstances. A